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REPORTING · 16th July 2012
Walter McFarlane
Rick Brouwer, Executive Director from Skeena Nass Centre Innovation Research Economics (SNCIRE) stepped up to present to Council on Monday June 18th. He talked about his history and some of the programs he has worked on and expressed with the exception of three projects, including Alcan, they all do not exist anymore.

“It’s an important thing for us to remember that while times are good, it’s also a great time to prepare for if times are not so good in the future,” said Brouwer. “I think this Regional Collaboration Initiative we are talking about is about building the conversation so we can minimize or, better yet, prevent the impact of a down turn in commodity prices. We need to take charge of our own destiny.”

The project he refers to is to create a framework in the Northwest which would link various organization involved in economic development and allows them to share resources.

A memo to Council lists the goals of this organization. The Regional Collaboration Initiative’s goal, create links between the First Nations, communities, government, businesses and organizations. It plans to take advantage and respond to the opportunities and challenges for proposed economic development.

It plans to create a stable natural resource based economy and lower costs to communities, First Nations, proponents and service providers.

Brouwer stated SNCIRE was up to was working with Northwest Community Collage and Skeena Diversity Society on a conference called “Beyond Lumber.” They have been providing information to agencies about the Natural Resources of this Region.

They have representatives on the Northwest Transmission Lines, the Labour Market Steering Committee and International Bio Energy Conference. They have made presentations on Timbre Supply, talk about forestry issues and dealing with investors on projects around forestry, bio energy and wood waste disposal.

“We continue to pursue funding to allow us to continue those projects and build a diverse and resilient region,” said Brouwer. “We promotion funding that will allow us to identify, develop and promote opportunities to build a resilient and sustainable resource.”

He asked for a letter of support and for Council to renew their membership. He also asked for funding support.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan wanted to know what sort of Support SNCIRE had from the region for this Regional Collaboration. Brouwer expressed Hazelton is providing support, they have talked to Terrace, and are going to talk to Prince Rupert and New Hazelton. Prince George Community Development Initiative has provided $12,000 in kind and a letter of support. SNCIRE is putting forward $10,000 to the project.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff said he was still hurting from the Eurocan loss and how a report stated the plant could be viable. He was also frustrated with the senior levels of government. He wanted to know what happened to Pytrade and their million dollar grant which is slowing the project.

Feldhoff also inquired about one of their activities. Brouwer explained it is an attempt to increase the amount of weight which could be placed on trucks traveling the highways. He explained there is a limit right now, but there are also a lot of trucks which will be coming to this region to build pipelines. If the weight limit was gone, fewer trucks could carry more pipelines and this would make the roads safer.

A second request for funding for the Regional Collaboration from SNCIRE came forward at the Regular Meeting of Council on July 3rd. This time the motion was to decline the request and it was made by Councillor Corrine Scott.

She stated SNCIRE approached the economic department requesting $7500 to go towards a regional collaboration frame work to address issues including the need for trained and educated personal to work on major projects. It would also identify economic development projects, create a forum for the info structure of health and prioritize funding requests for remedial ground based sights.

“These issues are presently being addressed through groups already in place. There is the Impact Management Task Force, the Northwest Regional Workforce Table and the Invest in Northwest BC Group. Our economic development officer is active in each of these other groups. To date, the only municipality that has committed funding to SNCIRE is the village of Hazelton in the amount of $1000,” said Scott.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated they were funding specific initiatives in the past. He was going to wait for a specific initiative.

The motion was called and carried.