Mr. Speaker, we all watched on TV as the North Thompson-Okanagan regions were devastated by forest fires this summer. The North Thompson region was hardest hit since it depended almost fully on the forest industry and the Tolko mill, which was irretrievably lost. Prior to the fires, this region was already economically depressed by softwood lumber problems, pine beetle infestation and mad cow disease.
In the gallery today are representatives of the North Thompson Recovery Task Force, Chair John Ranta, Mayor Mel Rothenburger and John Smith, who are here to present their report, “A Route to Recovery”, to the federal government. They are to be congratulated for taking the initiative with their quick and innovative response.
This report is a made in the region comprehensive plan of action that would require the cooperation of federal, provincial and local governments, the private sector and the community. It focuses specifically on reviving the destroyed beef industry, reforestation, tourism and infrastructure building.
The federal government has already contributed $100 million to emergency relief, but this long term economic plan is essential to this region's recovery.