Claire Trevena, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and MLA for the North Island, came in for an exclusive interview with the North Island Gazette on Feb. 2, where she discussed topics ranging from Christy Clark, to Highway 19, to the Port Alice pulp mill, to BC Ferries, to the opioid crisis, and fish farms.
On Christy Clark:
What are your thoughts on Christy Clark’s time in office?
There are a lot of monsters under the bed that we are dealing with. They left ICBC as a complete wreck, and that’s going to have an affect on everybody in this province. They have left so many other disasters around, and we are working on behalf of the people of BC to try and make life affordable, to make the services work, and to grow the economy. It’s disgraceful the BC liberals allowed this to happen, and now we are left to clean it up.
On Highway 19:
Is there anything that can be done about the size of rocks used on the highway from Port Hardy to Campbell River?
It’s something – since becoming the MLA back in 2005 – I have been dealing with … The ministry has a certain size of aggregate, and they assure me it’s within the right size and right spec. The provincial standard is why we have this gravel, but it’s something I continue raising with the ministry and our maintenance staff. We are looking into it.
With Western Forest Products shutting down the Englewood logging train in Woss, what will the government be doing to address the increase in logging truck traffic on the roads?
This is a very serious concern. The impact on jobs and families is huge, and as a representative of the North Island, I am extremely concerned about this. I’ve been talking with Western, and the Ministry of Forest is going to be talking with Western, and we are working on how we can minimize the impact of the logging traffic on the highway … We are looking at different ways we can try to minimize the impact, and we are taking it very seriously so we can find solutions.
On the Port Alice pulp mill:
What is being done about the Port Alice pulp mill’s production curtailment?
I’ve been talking with the owners of the mill and seeing what we can do, it is a continual struggle and I think everybody would like to get more transparency on what the future of the mill is. The current owners keep saying if they get the investments they will reopen the mill, but they’re giving no more transparency than that, and I think that is problematic for the whole North Island.
On BC Ferries:
Where is the BC Ferries system review currently at?
The ferries review has started, and I should get a report by June. It’s an operational review on how BC Ferries is working, everything from the organizational structure to how fares are set, to how communities are served. The real thing I’m looking for from that review is how BC Ferries can work for the good of communities that are served by the ferry system. We have communities up and down the coast that rely on ferries, whether it is Port Hardy, Campbell River, Galiano Island – I want to ensure the ferry system is working in the interest of coastal communities and those who live and work in coastal communities.
How do you reconcile the criticism over demanding ferries be made part of the highway system while in opposition, but don’t appear to support it now?
In opposition, I was talking about BC Ferries as part of our marine highway and I still say it’s part of our marine highway. There’s no question that BC Ferries is a marine highway network. It links our communities and is a very strange hybrid between a highway system and a public transit system. You get on your ferry and it links highways. It’s right there, but you also use it like you use a bus. For me, one of the most troubling things is that in a transit system, when you pay a fare you’re not paying for the cost of a bus, but when you’re paying your BC Ferry fare you are also paying for the cost of new ferries and new infrastructure. Our highway system is paid through the public purse, and the investment in BC Ferries comes from government, so we need to have some relativity to the needs of the public.
On the opioid crisis:
How does the NDP intend to combat our growing drug problem, like the opioid crisis, which is slowly making its way to rural communities?
We are extremely concerned about the opioid crisis, and are using everything we can – whether it’s from the health centre or from law enforcement, and we are extraordinarily focused on this. We’ve just announced there will be community action teams in a number of communities, including Campbell River, which will be focusing on this issue and we will continue working every way we can to tackle this, because it is a tragedy, you can see the numbers of people that are dying, and it shouldn’t be happening.
On fish farms:
What has been done so far to follow-up on campaign promises to remove fish farms from First Nation communities?
It was always a platform that we were going to transition to closed containment. The state we are at now is we’ve had government-to-government-to-government meetings. The Province of BC, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Forest Lands Natural Resource Development, the Minister of Environment, and the Minister of Indigenous Relations, along with federal counterparts and First Nations government have sat down this week to talk about ways forward. They will be meeting again, and obviously there is a dialogue with the industry as well.
Are you personally for or against fish farms?
It’s nothing personal with me at all, we are working government-to-government-to-government on this one and are talking with industry.