Development needed to spur economy

Dear editor, 

Dear editor, 

I have lived on the North Island for more than three years and feel I have to comments about the general state of the economy here. 

I understand there used to be a vibrant economy here.  There was a lot of logging, a large mine, substantial fishing.  The communities were growing, property values were increasing, commodities which are unavailable today could be bought. 

Today, I see a decreasing population, businesses closed or struggling to survive, real estate that takes forever to sell.  I look in the paper at the classified ads and see virtually no career opportunities. 

Nothing changes. It does not appear to be getting any better in the forseeable future.  So, I ask myself, why is it like this?  The only conclusion I can draw is that there is a lack of interest in resource development.  This is where the real dollars are, and that is a reality. I see an emphasis on tourism and very little else.  I am not against tourism, but with the exception of a few businesses who specifically cater to the  hospitality industry, it does virtually nothing for anyone else. 

I also sense a general attitude that this is way it is, and that’s all there is to it. Does it have to be this way?  I should say not!  To effect change however takes determination on behalf of all people who are affected by this situation.   

I see articles in the newspaper about the pitfalls of resource development.  I just read an article about the possibilty of an oil spill and what a horror that would be.  I don’t see oil and gas development as being the bad thing that is so often portrayed in the media.  We use oil and gas products every day, and we will continue to do so for the forseeable future, until something else replaces it.  Until then, we should focus our attention on a resource which can be had, is very commercially viable, and provides jobs and wealth for those involved in it. 

This is not the only resource we have available to us here on the North Island. I believe in the surrounding area there are potentially rich deposits of copper and molybdenum, perhaps other valuable minerals.  I have heard rumours, but no solid plans from a large mining company. I am aware of the Knob Hill Wind Farm Project.  I applaud it, and hope it goes ahead. 

We have to take a new approach to change the economy here.  Pressure has to be brought upon the federal and provincial governments  to create an environment where economic development is welcomed rather than hindered.  Some of the environmental groups need to be sidelined rather than consulted, because we all know what their reaction to any kind of development is – they never want anything to happen. 

I see many problems facing the North Island with regards to the economy here, I am offering my opinion as to what remedy is available to improve the situation for all of us who want to improve our lot. 

Jerry Hempler

Port McNeill