A one-stop shop to access the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations opened in Dawson Creek yesterday.
Located at the Peace Forest District office, FrontCounter BC is a single window government service that provides direct access for businesses and residents to B.C.’s natural resource ministries and agencies, such as mining, forestry, agriculture, water, and land.
“It is about the ability to have a one-window stop where people can go look for their permits and get the information they need,” said Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom, who was on hand for the announcement at the Peace Forest District office.
Until yesterday, people had to travel to Fort St. John or go back and forth between several different offices located around Dawson Creek, Tumbler Ridge or Chetwynd.
“We heard loud and clear that people didn’t want to have to travel to different ministry offices, go from one area to another, and in many cases one community to another to do their business.”
The staff will work with clients to guide them through the complex permit, licensing, and application process, along with interpretation of land information and management plans.
It will also act as a liaison between ministries, agencies and governments, as well as initiating the referral processes with First Nations. It works with clients to identify economic development opportunities in the region.
According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations the Dawson Creek office is part of the B.C. Liberals plan to expand its FrontCounter BC program across British Columbia. It is the fifth location to open this year and 17th since January of 2011. Since 2005 it has processed over 47,000 authorizations offering more than 130 natural resource related permits at every location province-wide.
Furthermore, the B.C. Government says the opening of FrontCounter in Dawson Creek signifies Liberals’ focus on job creation as part of the BC Jobs Plan, noting that it will enable quicker job creation and support regional economic development in the natural resource sector.
“We’re [B.C. Liberals] trying to make it easy for the general public or for industry to do business,” said Lekstrom about the Province’s initiative to provide easier access to resource development and industry growth.
“Governments don’t create jobs, we create an environment where the private sector wants to invest their capital and that’s who create the jobs for you and I and our families.
“In order to do that we want to ensure we have effective regulatory regimes, and effective legislative regimes, and we also want to ensure that when people come for their permitting and information that you don’t have to go all over to get that. You can go to one window and garner the information that you need in order to help make decisions and carry forward with applications, and that’s what we’ve done here today,” added Lekstrom.
“Anytime you can effectively create an opportunity for industry to come, find out the information they need, get the permitting, and help that flow of permitting through the system it allows people to be on the ground quicker once they’ve met all those requirements. Obviously then creating jobs for the people in this region and the province.”
Rob Kopecky District Manager for the Peace Forest District said FrontCounter is a great opportunity not only for district staff but also for the ministry to meet the needs of their wide client base.
“It gives our staff a new variety of work,” said Kopecky citing the 130-diffferent applications it will provide to clients working in resource based sectors.
He added that since the Ministry of Forest’s transformation in 2010 to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natrual Resources Operations it has become the umbrella group for all natural resource sectors, and FrontCounter will enable the district to streamline it’s services to all those involved in natural resource industries.
“The applications could be forestry, water applications, gravel pit applications, and mineral exploration,” said Kopecky. “It will be a huge variety, from the large corporations right down to the Ma and Pop operations.”