With the resource sector in northern B.C. booming, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen wants to make it easier for people to understand which projects are right for the region.
Cullen will bring his Renewal Northwest tour to Prince George on Monday in an event at UNBC with the aim of sparking discussions among a wide variety of groups about what the future of resource extraction will look like.
"We're looking for work, we want people to be able to put food on the table and resource extraction is always going to be a part of that," Cullen said on Friday. "Doing it the right way is something people are keenly, keenly aware of."
The two-hour session runs from 7 to 9 p.m. in room 205/211, across from the Canfor Theatre. This is the fourth stop on the tour for Cullen and he said at past events he's done a lot more listening than talking. The NDP MP wants to eventually put together a guide book of sorts for citizens to help them evaluate different projects. Among the topics the guide will address are the number of local jobs a project will create, its environmental impact and the integrity of the company pitching the plan.
"There's obviously been some controversial projects, but there are others we want to start saying yes to, but people have become very wary of some of these industrial developments because of past practices," Cullen said.
At previous events Cullen said people from all different backgrounds took part and a wide variety of opinions were expressed. He hopes the same will hold true in Prince George.
"There's no good in just speaking to one sector of town, you'll get a very skewed view of the world," he said. "We're framing this as getting to yes and that attracts a few more people out because they don't feel like they're coming to something that's trying to shut things down or be overwhelmingly negative."
Eventually Cullen plans to present his findings both to government and industry so they can find ways to make project palatable to people in the region.
"Industry is often scratching its head saying, 'how do we talk to your people in the north' and we haven't always had a quick answer for them," Cullen said. "I think more and more of those answers are coming."
The tour heads to Fort St. James on Tuesday, Burns Lake on Wednesday and Smithers on Thursday. Cullen kicked off the meetings with stops last month in Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Terrace and hesaid more events are being planned for later in the spring in his riding.
The idea for the tour came from a discussion Cullen had with UNBC president George Iwama last year when Iwama was visiting Ottawa and Prince George became a natural location for a meeting even though it's not in Cullen's riding.
He said he often holds events around the province if he feels local MPs aren't engaging on the issues, something Cullen said Dick Harris and Bob Zimmer are guilty of on the resource file.
"They're just sort of picking of the Prime Minister's line, which is pretty one-sided," Cullen said. "Ironically enough, it's not very successful at getting projects the social license they need to get accepted."