District of Kent councillor Sylvia Pranger has been chosen to sit on a new rural advisory council.
Pranger was one of 14 individuals chosen from across the province to represent rural B.C. in an advisory role to the provincial government. The mandate of the council is to provide input to government policy decisions to best support thriving rural communities.
Pranger volunteered to put her name forward after discussion at a recent Council meeting. Pranger is an active volunteer and former mayor in Agassiz. She cites in her advisory council biography that she wants to be a voice at the table to make sure rural issues are heard.
“We’re a very rural, agricultural-based community and I think it’s important that the voice of rural British Columbia is heard,” says Pranger.
Pranger already has some ideas she’d like to bring forward to the advisory council.
“I want them to understand what agriculture contributes to the B.C. economy,” she says. “Before they institute new policies, I would like them to run it by some rural councils to see what kind of affect those policies might have in a rural community.”
The council’s initial focus will be to provide advice on rural economic development, including rural access to capital and business development support for rural entrepreneurs and businesses.
“There are promising economic opportunities on the horizon for British Columbia,” says Steve Thompson, the minister of forests, lands and natural resources. “We want to ensure that small and rural communities share fully in the benefits.”
Donna Barnett, parliamentary secretary to the minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations for rural development, says “The Province recognizes the importance of rural communities; they are the lifeblood of B.C. and government is committed to fostering thriving rural communities. Members of the Rural Advisory Council will play a key role in bringing rural concerns to the forefront and ensuring that rural British Columbians have a stronger voice.”
There were 87 applicants for the 14 positions. Other representatives come from Cache Creek, Fairmont Hot Springs, Kamloops, Williams Lake, Houston, Skidegate, Dawson Creek, Port McNeill, Christina Lake, Terrace, Armstrong, Vanderhoof and McBride.
Members are expected to meet on a quarterly basis. Pranger is looking forward to the first meeting, to be held March 26-27 in Victoria.
“It’ll be interesting,” she predicts.