Times are good for local area

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said that the riding has had a busy, and for the most part, successful 2011.

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad said that the riding has had a busy, and for the most part, successful 2011.

He said he helped move along the approval process for a number of projects, including upgrades to a 60 kilometre stretch of Hwy.16 from Richmond Loop to Tintagel, as well as upgrades to the intersection of Augier Forest Service Road and Hwy. 16.

Rustad said that he has personally supported many projects in the riding during 2012.

“It’s hard to put a finger on everything I am involved in because there is so many projects on the go,” he said, adding that   the works as a team to get projects approved.

“I am pleased the Augier Forest Service Road upgrades were completed … it was a safety issue, especially during winter. Now trucks can turn safety at the intersection and there isn’t any traffic problems,” Rustad said.

Rustad also said he remains optimistic that the hospital replacement project will be approved and that the medical crisis in Burns Lake will come to an end next year.

He said approval for the Lakes District Hospital replacement project is now in the hands of the Treasury Board.

“The plan was submitted and approved by the Ministry of Health and now the Treasury Board are reviewing the proposal, so I am open for an announcement one way or another early in the New Year,” he said.

He said the Lakes District Hospital replacement project and the Burns Lake medical crisis have been his number one priority for 2012. He said he has personally attended meetings with Northern Health, the Minister of Health, Premier Christy Clark, the doctors at the Burns Lake Medical Clinic, the Village of Burns Lake and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako on the subject. “I have been very active on this file, it is my number one priority,” he said, adding that he is disappointed that the health care crisis in Burns Lake has not yet been fully resolved.

Rustad said that when the doctors of the Burns Lake Medical Clinic all resigned their hospital duties earlier this year, Northern Health moved rapidly forward to put an Alternative Payments Plan (APP) model in place, to replace the Fee For Service model. Rustad said he fully supports the APP model.

“The [Burns Lake] doctors didn’t want the APP model and decided to pull back, which then left Burns Lake’s health care in the lurch and I am really disappointed that there is still no resolution. The APP model is working well in Fraser Lake and the Robson Valley and I think it would be a positive step forward for Burns Lake, but you have to work with what you have got,” he added.

The Burns Lake Medical Clinic is privately owned by the local physicians. An APP funding model would have ultimately seen ownership of the clinic transferred to Northern Health and local physicians placed on contract with the health authority for their services. Under the APP model, Northern Health would also maintain clinic staff who would be then be unionized and nurse practitioners would become part of the staff at the clinic, the Lakes District Hospital and the Health Centre.

“I am hopeful there will be a resolution to improved working conditions for physicians and improved services for patients in 2012,” Rustad said.

He said the riding is shaping up for another busy year ahead.

Although Rustad did not have a hand in a number of developments in the riding, he said they are a positive step forward .

“With Mt. Milligan Mine [located mid way between the communities of Fort St. James and Mackenzie] moving full steam ahead, it’s shaping up to be a busy year ahead in the mining industry.”

He said Endako Mine, located near Fraser Lake is also forging ahead with their expansion plans.

“Aside from the possible announcement of the approval of the Lakes District Hospital replacement project, Rustad said the biggest project for the riding during 2012 will be the construction of the Pacific Trails Pipeline. While he said there is no direct benefits to Burns Lake from the pipeline, there will be some benefits flowing in to the communities along the pipeline’s corridor from Summit Lake to Kitimat once construction begins.

The project will provide a direct connection between the Spectra Energy Transmission pipeline system and the Kitimat LNG terminal to Asian markets.