Western Economic Diversification Canada

Western Economic Diversification Canada

July 18, 2007 17:29 ET

Western Economic Diversification Canada: Canada's New Government Investing $80 Million in BC Communities Hit by Mountain Pine Beetle

PRINCE GEORGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 18, 2007) - The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, announced today the commitment of more than $80 million from the federal Mountain Pine Beetle Program to help communities in British Columbia manage the long-term impacts of the unprecedented beetle infestation in the province.

Speaking at the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum, Minister Lunn launched the Community Economic Diversification Initiative (CEDI) which will provide a total of $36.6 million to support community capacity building and projects that offer innovative opportunities for economic growth, job creation and future sustainability of communities threatened by the beetle.

"Communities are feeling the impact of the beetle infestation today, and they will feel it for years to come," said Minister Lunn. "Our Mountain Pine Beetle Program is helping communities address short-term needs, such as fire protection, and we're also helping them address the long-term impacts by investing in efforts to broaden the economic foundations of these communities."

Two projects have been approved for funding under CEDI so far. Pending confirmation of funding from other partners, $250,000 will go to Thompson Rivers University to equip a Mobile Training Unit. The Northern Development Initiative Trust will receive $50,000 for its planned Northwest Corridor study.

Minister Lunn also announced that $44 million in Pine Beetle Program funds will be invested in Transport Canada's Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative for transportation infrastructure in beetle-affected areas.

A first investment of $12 million under this part of the program will go toward railway grade separations to eliminate four key level crossings: in Smithers, Terrace, and Ashcroft. These projects will be cost-shared with Canada's two national railways, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific.

"Eliminating these level crossings will increase trade efficiency and expand the potential economic opportunities offered by Canada's Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor to more communities in beetle-affected regions," said Minister Lunn. "Grade separations also reduce road congestion and idling at local rail crossings, thereby improving safety and providing environmental benefits."

Additional investments in transportation infrastructure will be announced in the coming months. Canada's New Government announced the Mountain Pine Beetle Program in January 2007, pledging a total of $200 million to work with the province of British Columbia and communities to deliver a comprehensive response to the infestation and its consequences. More information on the program is available at http://mpb.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/index_e.html.

For more information on the Mountain Pine Beetle Program, please visit: http://mpb.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/publications_e.html.

The general public may contact:

Mon-Fri, 8:30-4:30 EDT
Telephone: 613-995-0947
TTY: 613-996-4397
(teletype for the hearing-impaired)
E-mail: questions@nrcan.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Natural Resources Canada - Ottawa
    Kathleen Olson
    Director of Communications, Office of the Minister
    (613) 996-2007
    Western Economic Diversification Canada
    Jillian Glover
    Communication Advisor
    (604) 666-7543 or Cell: (604) 306-1386
    Website: www.wd.gc.ca
    Transport Canada, Ottawa
    Julie Guimond
    (613) 993-0055