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British Columbia Premier Christy Clark addresses the Vancouver Board of Trade in Vancouver, Sept. 22, 2011. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark addresses the Vancouver Board of Trade in Vancouver, Sept. 22, 2011. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Regional report

Christy Clark's minefield: Energy and jobs Add to ...

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says the province will have eight new mines by 2015. An underground copper and gold mine near Kamloops, called the New Afton mine, could be the first. The Kamloops Daily News says the mining company has signed an economic participation agreement with the Skeetchestn and the Tk’emlups Indian Band that provides for long-term employment targets and contracts. The agreement could serve as a template for mining operations and First Nations around B.C., the newspaper reports.

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“I think it’s definitely something any First Nation and company can use to look at real strong partnerships that looks after the needs of everybody,” says Ann Wallin, human resources manager for New Afton. The mine is expected to be fully operational in 2012.



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New mines, a multi-billion dollar smelter expansion at Kitimat and maybe new pipelines are coming to the North. But who has the jobs?

Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin says it’s outrageous the provincial government is encouraging people from southern B.C. to move north to find work when little has been done to train people who live in the region, the Terrace Standard reports.

“This is ridiculous. For 10 years, this government has had a chance to put people through training here, to provide them with upgrading, at a period of very low economic activity and its done nothing,” Mr. Austin said. “And here we are expecting some good news with these projects and the government is advertising for people from elsewhere to come here.” The people who live in the north should benefit from development of northern resources, he said.



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Dr. Albert Koehler, a recently elected city councillor in Prince George, has been working on the development of an engineering program at the University of Northern British Columbia since 2008 but the provincial government refuses to fund it, the Prince George Free Press reports.

A recent 600-page consultant’s report identified a current shortage of 700 to 800 technologists and engineers in northern B.C. “That is how many jobs there are available ... right now,” he told the newspaper. The gap between supply and demand is widening every day, he says.

A group that includes representatives from post secondary institutions and industry has put together a civil engineering university program that is ready to start as soon as funding is available. “The civil engineering program is fleshed out . . . and could start up any time the government will provide the funds,” he said. “They say at the moment the funding is not there. I’m disappointed because I believe it’s a matter of priorities. There is a direct relationship between technology, engineering and job creation.”



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Are the alarm bells ringing at BC Liberal Party headquarters? The Daily Courier in Kelowna has endorsed a proposal from John Cummins, leader of the resuscitated BC Conservative Party. Backed up by a report by former Newfoundland premier and current BC Conservative member Brian Peckford, Mr. Cummins has said he would have an independent review of the RCMP and consider returning to the B.C. provincial policing model if his party forms a new B.C. government.

“BC Conservative Leader John Cummins' idea is looking like it makes a whole lot of sense,” says an editorial signed by managing editor Jon Manchester. “Why wouldn't a prudent provincial government explore all avenues? Even if such research found creating a provincial police force to be too expensive and sticking with the RCMP to be the best deal, at least negotiators would be armed with information that would add some leverage to their discussions,” the paper says.

The B.C. and federal governments reached agreement last week on a 20-year renewal of the RCMP contract in the province.

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In federal politics:



Mining in B.C.is also on Ottawa’s agenda.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent turned down a request from Kamloops and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District for a federal review panel of the controversial Ajax gold and copper mine south of Kamloops. He says a comprehensive study is sufficient to find out whether the project will have significant adverse environmental effects, reports The Daily News in Kamloops.

The proposal involves redevelopment of an old mining operation within city limits. Kamloops MP Cathy McLeod told the newspaper that Mr. Kent wants to find out more information to see if something might trigger a panel review. “What he’s committed to is understanding this issue in a more fulsome way, which includes a site visit, which includes the community. And it also includes understanding from departments such as Fisheries to see if there are any significant concerns at this point, or as it goes on, any concerns that get triggered,” she told The Daily News.



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