A new rural advisory council is the key commitment from the provincial government’s new report on rural development, Supporting Rural Development: Creating a Voice for Rural B.C.
The rural advisory council will provide input to government policy decisions to best support thriving rural communities, while keeping in mind government’s need to control spending and ensure an overall balanced budget.
The initial focus of the council will be to provide advice on:
Avenues to support greater rural access to capital;
Stronger business development support for rural entrepreneurs and businesses; and
Moving forward on the rural dividend.
“While the majority of the province’s population is in urban centres, the majority of wealth is generated by resource development in rural areas,” said Steve Thomson, forests minister and an Okanagan MLA.
“We need to ensure that rural British Columbians have an equitable share in the economic benefits generated. A rural advisory council will provide advice to government on how to make that happen.”
The rural advisory council will have representation from throughout rural B.C. with membership to be announced before the end of December. The initial intake of council members will consist of two- and three-year appointments.
At the 2013 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, Premier Christy Clark tasked Steve Thomson and Donna Barnett, parliamentary secretary for rural development, with being responsible for rural development.
After meetings and discussions with key stakeholders, and considering recommendations from the Rural B.C. Working Group in June 2014, the provincial government released the report, Supporting Rural Development: Creating a Voice for Rural B.C.
The report was released by Barnett during the 2014 UBCM annual convention last week in Whistler.