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 she 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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chemainus & District Baseball Association season on hold due to COVID-19

Shouts of Play Ball! would normally have started being heard next week

Province restricts open burning across much of the Cowichan region

No new fires may be initiated in all high smoke sensitivity zones

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

COVID-19: Isolation exemptions to frontline workers a danger to patients, say Island Health employees

Staff exempt from self-isolation upon return from international travel according to Island Health

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Long list of events disrupted by COVID-19 around the community

Challenging situation affecting fundraisers, entertainment, sports and more

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Most Read