Plenty of government bigwigs descended on the Nicola Valley last week as B.C. Premier Christy Clark visited Merritt for meetings with her provincial caucus.

While in the Merritt area, caucus members visited facilities such as the Ashcroft inland port, Highland Valley Copper mine and the Diacarbon biomass plant in Merritt.

Clark said responsible resource development will create a better future for future generations.

“I think we’ve got to remember where our wealth comes from. I think when resource development happens in your community, it’s easy to say, ‘Wait a minute, I want it to happen somewhere else,’ but we have to remember that that’s what built our province,” Clark said.

She said she sees opportunities for growth in the Nicola Valley and pointed out the region’s forestry resources and mining resources as things the area has going for it.

On Thursday, Clark was at the Civic Centre for a luncheon held by the Merritt and District Chamber of Commerce, where she made a speech on the government’s work to control spending and grow the economy.

The event sold all 120 of its available tickets and there were 28 MLAs in attendance, chamber manager Etelka Gillespie told the Herald.

In her speech, Clark said B.C. depends on the economic success of resource-based towns like Merritt.

“If you live in Vancouver-Point Grey, what happens in Merritt is pivotal,” she said.

“It’s crucially important that MLAs who understand their communities come back to Victoria and tell us what we need to know, what we need to do to make these communities work,” Clark said. “Because if you’re not working — if Merritt’s not working, if Princeton’s not working, if Cooks
Ferry First Nation isn’t working, if Ashcroft isn’t working — then nobody in the province is working.”

Clark also said the government needs to keep taxes and regulations low.

Clark said government needs to think about opportunities to grow the B.C. economy, noting resource development such as producing liquefied natural gas, which she described as “the business of the future for our province.”

She said LNG development can create 100,000 new jobs.

Clark said that with economic growth will come the resources needed to make investments in social programs.

She said First Nations need to be part of the economic growth and resource development in B.C. as well.

Clark said the caucus and cabinet are meeting in places around the province and chose Merritt as the first spot outside the Lower Mainland to have a major caucus retreat because of Liberal MLA Jackie Tegart.

“Jackie Tegart is one of the most passionate voices for rural communities that you have ever sent to Victoria,” Clark said.