Rick Thompson addressing a crowd in 2014.
Rick Thompson addressing a crowd in 2014.

By: Frank Green

Former-McBride village councillor and local businessperson Rick Thompson will serve on a new provincial government council set up to advocate for rural communities in British Columbia.

The Rural Advisory Council will try to bring more capital to rural areas, and to create a “rural dividend” to keep more of the money from ventures like logging and mining in the rural areas where they take place, among other initiatives.

Seventy percent the money from British Columbia’s exports comes from rural communities, according to the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

The council is made up of 14 members from around the province, chosen from amount 87 applicants. It will have its first meeting later this month, and meet four times a year.

“There has to be a way to keep small communities alive,” said Thompson, when asked about why he applied to join the council. “Populations are diminishing. People are looking for work in the big centers. Families are being separated.”

“But small rural communities provide the lifestyle that people want to have,” he added. “So we also have to be able to provide the livelihood that will draw people here.”

At the September 2013 Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual convention, Premier Christy Clark tasked Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson with the responsibility for rural development. In September 2014, government released its report entitled Supporting Rural Development: Creating a Voice for Rural British Columbia, in which it committed to forming a Rural Advisory Council. A copy of the report is available online at: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/mof/reports.htm