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 said 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.

Just Posted

Langley chamber of commerce CEO named executive of the year by Canadian chamber

Colleen Clark has nearly 25 years of experience in the chamber network

Spartans make it four in a row

Langley-based TWU womens soccer team keeps Alberta rivals scoreless

VIDEO: Rock and gem show a smashing good time in Aldergrove

Club marks 60 years with weekend show and sale

VIDEO: A moment to remember during day three of the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday in Langley

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Over 200 Hotel Georgia hospitality workers join ‘open-ended strike’

Unionized workers at Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront have also walked out

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Hiker rescued after spending night on Crown Mountain

North Shore Rescue spotted the woman by helicopter over Hanes Valley

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Most Read