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

Saanich’s 20-year-old acting mayor encourages other young people get involved in politics

There is a ‘hunger for young voices’ in politics right now

Designs for Johnson Street Bridge waterfront areas hit delays

Upgrades to the Songhees Park, surrounding area being presented Thursday

Personal health scare inspires Sidney’s newest gym

Arne Jackson said the scare was a ‘wake-up call’

Supplemental information for SD63 students circulates as strike appears close to end

Letters were sent to families of SD63 students late last week

Expert says Sidney appears on track with plans for EV charging infrastructure

Jim Hindson of Victoria Electric Vehicle Association says public charging should not be free

Abortions rights advocates urge Liberals to turn politics into policy

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was pressed to clarify his stance abortion over several weeks

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

Fisherman missing near Lake Cowichan’s Shaw Creek

Family is asking for everyone and anyone to keep their eyes open,… Continue reading

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Most Read