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SURREYCUPE BC president Barry O’Neill is calling on neighbours to band together to find solutions to the economic downturn.

Speaking Monday in Surrey on his Investing in Our Communities Tour of the Lower Mainland, O’Neill said that after touring more than 30 communities across B.C., “it’s all about doing things smaller, because at the end of the day, it’s small groups at the community and neighbourhood level that can make something happen by talking and working together.” O’Neill pointed to the advantages of buying local goods and maintaining locally controlled services.

O’Neill said local governments are often more responsive to community needs. “In general, local representatives are better liked than other levels of government - because they are our neighbours and their decisions are put under the microscope – there’s no place for them to hide because they live right beside us.”

O’Neill was joined by United Steelworkers’ Western and Northern Canada director Steve Hunt, who detailed the recent devastation to the forestry sector caused by the export of raw logs. Hunt said that in addition to the 20,000 direct jobs lost in the past five years due to BC Liberal government policies, an estimated four support jobs are also lost for every forestry job.

The two also discussed:

  • the high cost of P3s and privatization;
  • the need for communities to have a strong local economy;
  • the importance of buying and hiring locally, and;
  • why we trust local government to provide infrastructure and services more than we trust other levels of government.
The tour continues tonight with a public meeting in North Vancouver at the Holiday Inn (700 Old Lillooet Road) at 7:30 pm. Tomorrow (Wednesday) O’Neill heads to Delta and will wrap up the tour with a public meeting in Vancouver on Thursday.