Part one of an interview with Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart.
The recent announcement that Singapore-based PSA International has signed an investment agreement with the Ashcroft Terminal, is “incredibly exciting” for the region and for the Village of Ashcroft, says Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart.
Speaking with The Journal about a wide range of issues, Tegart says that Ashcroft Terminal has worked very hard to make sure their expansion is sustainable. “They’ve been successful in that. The announcement of the $9.2 million committment from the federal government was incredible, and to have the next step with this partnership shows us they’re here to stay.
“I think we need to look at what are the opportunities, what do we as communities and the region need to do to make sure the infrastructure is there. It’s an exciting time for job creation and economic development in the region as a whole. If you talk to real estate agents, I think we’re seeing the impact of it already.”
Asked about the Clinton seniors’ housing development, which the Liberal government announced would receive $2.9 million in provincial funding before the 2017 election, Tegart says there has been no news.
“It’s incredibly frustrating. We’re still waiting on a land transfer that is within government [the facility is slated to be developed on the former Clinton Elementary School site]. We have such a committed group in Clinton. During budget estimates I made sure that it was on the radar for Minister Selina Robinson, who’s in charge of housing, and we continue to advocate on behalf of the community.
“It’s just unbelievably frustrating that the transfer of property within government could be so convoluted. I’ve indicated to the minister that these are determined people. We’re rural, we are committed to keeping our seniors at home, and don’t think that we’re going away.”
Tegart says there’s been no update on the four-laning of Highway 97 north of Cache Creek, which was also announced by the Liberal government in March 2017. The highway issue that is particularly troubling to her is the 10 Mile Slide site on Highway 99 north of Lillooet. “To have the funding sitting there, waiting, and to have the road restrictions this year, is incredibly crippling to our tourism industry, to our businesses that had such a tough year last year.
“Again, during budget estimates, I brought it to the attention of the Minister of Transportation. My understanding is that there are geotech challenges, but I want to make sure it’s on the forefront of the ministry’s agenda. It’s still included in the budget, so that’s a good thing, but we would love to get the work done.”
Speaking of the announced closures of local businesses such as As the Crow Flies and Central Foods in Clinton, Tegart says “We knew that we probably wouldn’t see the impact of last year’s fires and road closures for six to 12 months. Then to go through mudslides and flooding again this year; I think that leaders in the area have to be really aware of the support needed for small business.
“And our communities need to support our small businesses, because if you’re part of a larger organization and they’re looking strictly at numbers, it’s a tough sell to keep a business running.
“These are business people who work 24/7 and put their heart and soul into providing service for our region and to make sure the infrastructure is there for our tourism. To see them closing is very concerning.”
Tegart says she’s hearing around the riding that many businesses are finding it hard to get workers. “People are saying they’ve had signs in their windows for months, looking for part-time staff.”
However, she acknowledges that people looking to support a family won’t be able to do that with part-time work. “We have to find that balance.”
The announced closure of Greyhound bus services, coupled with the provincial government’s delay on introducing ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft into the province, is another concern. “We’ve been discussing what that means to rural B.C. As much as people talk about ride-sharing in mostly metro areas, we know that transportation is a huge issue in our area.
“Greyhound’s been around for a long time, and even though their service, their schedule, has changed, it still was there and servicing our communities. At least there was a way of getting out of town to other destinations. With the pulling of the Greyhound bus routes, the regions and the province need to be looking at how we provide transportation.”
To be continued