New B.C. party looks to represent rural voters in next election

Houston councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld says party will be a ‘relentless voice’ for rural towns

A new provincial party has formed in B.C., in hopes of becoming the voice for rural voters.

The Rural BC Party’s interim leader, Jonathan Van Barneveld, who’s also a councillor in Houston, in northern B.C. near Burns Lake, said the party plans to represent “average folks” who are tired of the major parties focusing on the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island.

“Previous governments going back decades have just really, in essence, never focused on rural issues,” Van Barneveld told Black Press Media after announcing the new party on Thursday. “In Houston specifically, there has always been a need for more social services.”

Key issues will vary from boosting tourism to diversifying industries and jobs – policies often driven by larger B.C. cities.

“We have great resource-driven economies and that has sustained our towns for a very long time, but economies change,” Van Barneveld said. “We’ve never had the opportunity or the means to truly diversify our communities and make them long-term, sustainable places to live.”

The 23 ridings the Rural BC Party would like to represent.

That means many rural residents living paycheque to paycheque, he said.

“They’re so heavily reliant on the ebb and flow of grant proposals, but yet communities are faced with huge infrastructure deficits. Eventually, our infrastructure is going to wear out and the municipal taxation system doesn’t allow for much else other than a heavy burden on their population.”

One example of rural-first policy, he said, is the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance, a group calling for an agreement with the federal and provincial governments to keep revenue generated from the northwest within the region.

“There’s little pieces like that, that when they all come together could greatly help rural B.C.”

Jonathon Van Barneveld (Black Press Media files)

Party looks to 2021 election with hopes of candidates in 23 ridings

The party gained official electoral status in February, but Van Barneveld said the group wanted to wait to debut until it had had gauged voter appetite for yet another politicial organization vying for support.

While there are only three parties in the B.C. legislature, there are more than 20 eligible provincial parties.

Rural BC’s goal is to represent 23 ridings, outside of the Greater Victoria area and Lower Mainland, in the 2021 election, so long as it can gather candidates. So far, the core team includes Van Barneveld and Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen.

“In coming months, we will be talking about nominations and getting candidates to come forth, and so we are seeing where the cream rises to the top,” Van Barneveld said, adding that some municipal politicians have already shown interest.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: What does being a Corn Capital really mean?

The Observer has been asked to help Agassiz become a bigger Corn Capital. But what does that mean?

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

Taser takedown in Chilliwack complex after incident gets violent

Male suspect became agitated under questioning and repeatedly punched an officer

Harrison looks to test viability of solar power

Harrison has applied for a grant to see whether solar power is an option for its village buildings

Agassiz man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

VIDEO: Agassiz remembers local officer at grave-marking ceremony

Montague White-Fraser had been buried in the Old Cemetery for 92 years without a headstone

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read