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NDP MLAs seek input from area residents

The NDP's four north and central B.C. MLAs will be in Prince George next week seeking input from local organizations and people on social and economic issues facing Prince George.

The NDP's four north and central B.C. MLAs will be in Prince George next week seeking input from local organizations and people on social and economic issues facing Prince George.

Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson said the input will help the New Democrats provide a better opposition to the B.C. Liberal government, who won a third term last spring.

Simpson, the aboriginal affairs critic, said the NDP want to determine what would constitute a northern decade for the province's economy, referring to a theme echoed at an economic summit hosted by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell last year at this time.

Northern B.C. business and community leaders sent a message at the summit that they were prepared to meet the current economic challenges head on, but expected the province to help by investing in infrastructure and training.

Northern Trust executive director Janine North rolled out a 15-point plan which called for the province to do everything from cutting the mine regulatory review process in half to starting a centre to train dentists in Fort St. John. "Making the next decade the northern decade is the best investment to ensure long-term provincial prosperity," North said at the time, stressing it is the North that is the wealth generator of the province.

Since then, the B.C. Liberals - often in partnership with the federal government - have invested in more infrastructure and training, including at the College of New Caledonia, the University of Northern B.C. and a highway connector road meant, in part, to help the Prince George Airport's air cargo development plan.

During the summit a year ago, Campbell had said he believed Prince George and northern B.C. had a bright future.

Simpson, who has also held the NDP's forestry critic post, said they will be examining northern economic development plans including those put out by the Northern Trust.

On their two-day visit here, the NDP MLAs will be meeting with Northern Health, the City of Prince George and School District 57.