North Coast NDP MLA Gary Coons and 2013 candidate Jennifer Rice visited Bella Coola last week.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons introduces new NDP candidate, Jennifer Rice

North Coast MLA Gary Coons introduces new NDP candidate, Jennifer Rice

Two-time North Coast NDP MLA Gary Coons was in Bella Coola last week to introduce the newest candidate for the riding, Jennifer Rice.

Coons, who confirmed several weeks ago that he would not be running in this year’s election, took this opportunity to speak with Bella Coola Valley residents about issues that are important to them, and in turn to give Rice the opportunity to connect to Bella Coola.

When asked whether or not this is the ‘end’ of his political career, Coons was frank. “I am going to stay politically engaged, especially with ferries,” he said. “I’m working closely with the BC Coastal Transportation Society and I plan to continue this work.”

Coons has made transportation via BC Ferries a focus of his work as an MLA, especially as an advocate for the residents of Haida Gwaii, who rely on the ferry system and are now paying a round-trip walk-on fare of $70 plus tax. Add a vehicle and the fare jumps to $126 for a one-way trip.

“Ferries are an extension of our highways,” said Coons. “But instead of being fairly funded by taxpayers, it’s been treated as a user-pay system. So now BC Ferries is in debt and many communities are underserviced as a result. It’s not an easy fix.”

When asked about the long-term viability of the Discovery Coast Passage Route to Bella Coola and our neighbouring communities, Coons was fairly optimistic the route would remain active. “It’s a vital link, especially for tourism,” Coons said. “You have people pushing for this route all the way from Williams Lake, and Bella Coola is a ferry-dependent community, even if you do have a road. BC Ferries is providing a service, it shouldn’t be about finances.”

As Coons moves on to other ventures, Prince Rupert City Councilor Jennifer Rice is eagerly awaiting her chance to take on North Coast issues. As the former chair for Friends of Wild Salmon, Rice has spent countless hours on one of the top issues on the Central and North Coast, the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. She also sits on the Ferries Advisory Committee, NW Regional Hospital District board, and as Alternate Director for the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District.

When questioned on her motivation to enter politics, Rice explained that, for her, advocacy is a perfect fit. “I really feel that advocacy is a role for me,” she said. “After sitting on council for so many years, you start to see that the local issues are really bigger and broader, and I would love the chance to address them at a provincial level.”

Rice, who is originally from Ottawa but has lived in Prince Rupert for over a decade, characterizes herself as ‘ambitious and determined,’ and feels like this is the right time in her life to take on the brand-new world of provincial politics.

Rice is pushing for a different approach to traditional politics, starting off with a conversation about which issues matter to local people.

“When I decided to take on the nomination I began calling people to ask them what issues were important to them,” she said. “The threat of Enbridge was at the top of the list. After that it was BC Ferries, and sustainable, local, resource and economic development. I’m looking forward to being a voice for people on these issues.”

The provincial election will be held on May 14, 2013. Campaigning is already underway, but the BC Liberals, the BC Green Party, and the BC Conservative Party have yet to announce their candidate for the North Coast.

 

 

 

Just Posted

Dry weather leads to historic low water levels in local rivers

The prolonged cold, coupled with the lack of precipitation, has contributed to the situation

Bella Coola businesses still eligible for Wildfire Business Transition Training Program

Small businesses are eligible to apply for reimbursement of training expenses up to $10,000

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

Wally Webber elected to fourth term as Nuxalk Chief Councilor

Webber took the win with 174 votes out of a total of 389

Bella Coola expected to be hottest spot in B.C. today

Temperatures are predicted to rise to 18 C

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

B.C. river cleanup crew finds bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Most Read