Regional District of Bulkley Nechako Director, Clint Lambert, recently took a trip to the Prince George Civic and Conference Centre for the BC Natural Resources Forum.
The forum was three days, at the end of January, and this is the 17 year the event has been hosted. Lambert came home with some new knowledge, and a couple of successes this year.
One of the major topics at the forum was Indigenous relations, which he has already been working on his own in his own district, with a specific project.
“They talked about how industry and First Nations are going to have to start working together through the UNDRIP… The United Nations Declaration (on the Rights of Indigenous People) thing. They’re trying to get everybody on the same page, how to work together,” he said.
An entire afternoon was dedicated to this, because of its importance now, said Lambert.
The project he’s been working on in his RDBN area E, with the three local First Nations communities is around getting cell phone service to the area. During the wildfire season of 2018, telephone wires burned off of the poles around the area he’s in, and people were left with no other way to communicate. Installing cell phone towers in the region and having cell service would prevent this from happening again.
This project has been in the works for him over the past year, but received a boost in productivity since Lambert’s eventful meeting at the BC Natural Resources Forum.
“I was able to grab Rio Tinto… because the Nechako reservoir is on the southside of Francois Lake… I was able to grab them, Coastal Gaslink, Telus and myself, and one of the three (First) Nations I represent. I got them all in the room there at one time. So that was really good, and it was really positive,” said Lambert.
“Between the three industries, we’re actually going to get somewhere I think,” he added.
Telus will now be surveying the area to see how many cell towers they would need to get the service, and they’ll come back to Lambert with the estimate. Then there will be a few other items to tackle, of course, but it’s now looking promising, he said.
One disappointment for Lambert was that agriculture was not part of the conversation around natural resources at the forum, which to him is wrong, because agriculture is intertwined with the use of natural resources.
CN Rail also spoke there, about their 100 year history, and the work they do getting resources to ports. And Premier Horgan gave a lunchtime speech, said Lambert. Horgan’s speech was bittersweet, he said, because while he applauded a booming natural resources economy, recent sawmill closures—and thousands of lay-offs as a result—say otherwise.
According to the BC Natural Resources website over 1200 people attended the conference this year, making it one of the largest conferences held in northern B.C.
“There is no other gathering that provides this diversity of speakers, delegates, exhibitors and leaders under one roof to discuss issues and explore the challenges and unprecedented opportunities unfolding in the province,” says the Forum webpage.