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REPORTING · 1st March 2010
Merv Ritchie
On Monday January 25, MLA Robin Austin came to Terrace City Council and asked them for a list of items they thought he might be able to help them with in Victoria. He opened by talking about the recess in the Legislative business while the Olympics were taking place. On February 9th, he told them, they would be opening for the Throne speech for three days and then on March 3rd they would return beginning with the presentation of the budget. He spoke about the NDI conference in Victoria where the Northern Communities shared their economic concerns with both sides of the legislature, Liberal and NDP stating it was a very good presentation, but the main thrust of his visit was to ask for ideas. Read about his visit HERE.

“I was hoping that you could give me some ideas of things you would like to see me advocate for.” He told the Terrace City Councillors.

On Monday, February 22, Austin was back to accept the ideas, “We came up with three items that we thought we might be able to have a discussion about tonight and see where we can go from here in terms of assistance.” stated Mayor Pernarowski and he began with the Terrace Skeena Industrial Development Park at the Airport.

Looking down at his papers he turned to the City Administrator, Ron Poole, and asked, “Has the MLA seen this yet?” Poole replied, “Your Worship, he hasn’t yet, we will make sure he gets a copy of it and we will probably follow up with him after this.”

Referring to it as a “Pretty big ask” Pernarowksi spoke about the infrastructure needs; the roads, rail and power.

“When you say it’s a ‘big big ask’ to do the entire thing," asked MLA Austin, "how much do you think it would cost to get it to a point where people could actually come in and start to use it?”

Once again the Mayor turned to Poole, “I’ll refer that to the CAO.”

“Your Worship,” he began, “I was assuming that question was going to be asked and then described how a couple years previous, during a meeting with the Premier, they determined it would cost another $36 million do provide everything, the roads paved, intersections and power, “If this is the direction Council goes in we’ll provide you with more details.” finished Poole.

The next task presented by Pernarowski for Austin to assist with was the Federal penitentiary. Austin asked if Council had spoken to the Federal Member of Parliament as this was a federal Penitentiary, not a Provincial one. “Or am I the first person you’re approaching.”

The Mayor joked that they always want to let him know first, suggesting they always wish to keep him in the loop. This drew some laughter from the council. Austin asked what was driving this and was told the Federal Government was looking to set aside $497 million for the construction of correctional facilities over the next three years and the City was hoping to be one location. Pernarowski told the MLA about a list of new Bills and measures being proposed that would increase the prison population.

Austin drew a reference to the Provincial Corrections facility, which was closed and later turned into a housing project, and told the Mayor he would talk with the Federal politician for the area, MP Nathan Cullen, as he didn’t want to step on his turf.

The last item on the list was a new Hospital. The Mayor suggested Mills was on a top three list for Hospitals needing replacement in the Province and added that it might be an interesting time, with the Eurocan closure, to pursue this concept as a job creation project for the region. Austin agreed and spoke about a recent meeting he had in Prince George with Northern Health where they spoke about the age and poor condition of the Hospital. He confirmed with the two Regional Hospital board representatives on Terrace City council, Brad Pollard and Carol Leclerc, that capital projects require 40% of the funds to come from the Regional Board’s budget concluding he would be happy to work with them on the replacement of Mills Memorial.

Councillor Bidgood referred the the list of twelve Council initiatives he termed ‘more parochial in nature’ that they would be pleased to get assistance with if Austin discovered someone was handing out cash, such as dealing with the Co-op property. Later, when asked about the scope of these three projects the Council asked help with, Bidgood joked that he thought they should include his assistance in changing the weather too. Pernarowski acknowledged these were big tasks but felt they were ones that Austin might be the best person to address these with.

Watch video of Austins visit to Council HERE.
Jail for all
Comment by les watmough on 22nd March 2010
A jail is not an economic development driver. It is a tax payer funded facility. Sawmills , gas plants, green houses, pulp mills (which we are closing) are economic drivers. The "new" Hospital idea came out of Northern Health in Prince George and was never endorsed by the Regional District or the northwest regional hospital.
History shows that if the city develops the airport land it will Bankrupt the city.
Well said Samantha
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 2nd March 2010
Samantha, that was exactly what went through my mind when I read this article.

Robin Austin has obviously been accomodating, professional and available to work with City Council for the betterment of the Skeena riding. I would like to believe that City Council is not trying to play partisan politics.
Good pro-active approach
Comment by Kevin Gooden on 2nd March 2010
Council has certainly presented some BIG items to our local MLA. In general, I like what they're doing.

The ask of $36 million for development of the industrial lands at the airport IS enormous. But so is the need. As I've stated in other comments at this website, Terrace is competing for new business with thousands of communities across Canada that already have fully-developed, fully-serviced industrial parks. We have great people and a great location, but we need to address this particular deficiency. And asking our local provincial MLA is the first logical step.

IF the present provincial government is not willing to support development of the airport industrial lands, then perhaps our MLA may be able to obtain a commitment from his party that THEY would support such a development? That would certainly provide local voters with important decision-making information for the next provincial election.

Of course it's not reasonable to expect that our MLA can do much - if anything - regarding the federal jail initiative, but the way I read Merv's story, council was simply providing an FYI to Mr. Austin, as a professional courtesy.

Finally, regarding a new hospital, I very much appreciate Bill Braam's commentary regarding need, environment, etc. We truly do need to be mindful of our impact to the environment, and not do projects unnecessarily. I don't know enough about the lcoal hospital to comment about that, but IF it really does need to be replaced, then it would certainly be a good project, especially as it could provide a good bridging factor that might get us through to a point in time where we start to see new businesses setting up shop in our new airport industrial lands!
Comment by bill (braam) on 1st March 2010
Reduce, reuse, recycle...leave a small carbon footprint....How do those compare to tearing down the old hospital and building a new one? Although the new hospital's ground won't be broken for some time why are we throwing the present one away when one half of it is hardly thirty five years old and largely unused? Not a very good use of our taxdollars. Will the new one only last a few years before we tear it down too? The oldest part (there are three distinct phases) is barely fifty years old and made of a lot of good concrete, couldn't we still make use of it? I'm not too enthused by paying even more of my taxdollars on building something new just because the old one is 'out of style' and the next town over has a newer one. The oldest part of the hospital may not be efficient and may have worn out infrastructure but on the other hand there are castles in Europe that are very very old and still standing. Hasn't building technique improved since . There, lots of stuff for everyone to mull over whille they think nasty thoughts while making out their tax returns.
Comment by Samantha on 1st March 2010
I have to wonder if Council actually knows the MLAs position and what he can assist with. Asking a provincial politician to assist with a federal prison, makes me wonder if these requests were made of the MLA to set him up to fail.

Then come next elections we could have a repeat of the our MLA doens't do anything for us scenarios.

I understand having a wish list, but could we keep the wishlist provincial. Could we also maybe not pick all astronimical items. Give the MLA an actual chance to help and to succeed in helping. He's a great man with great hopes for this city and this region. Don't doom him to failure for partisan politics.