FrontCounter opens in D.C., not just focused on forestry
By Jill Earl
Jill Earl photo
MLA for Peace River South Blair Lekstrom and acting Mayor Cheryl Shuman celebrate the official opening of FrontCounter BC in Dawson Creek.
DAWSON CREEK - Though FrontCounter BC in Dawson Creek quietly celebrated a soft launch last year, the office is now fully prepared to serve the city and the surrounding community.
Last week MLA for Peace River South and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Blair Lekstrom, helped officially open the new FrontCounter BC office at the Ministry of Natural Resources.
FrontCounter BC Offices are able to provide more then 130 permits and authorizations across the natural resource sector including: forestry, mining, agriculture and community pasture under one roof, so clients don’t have to go to more than one place to submit applications.
“It is an opportunity that we worked on collaboratively with a number of people, not only in this region but around the province,” Lekstrom said. “It’s about the ability to have a one-window stop where people can go, look for their permits, get the information they need.”
The province created FrontCounter BC in response to several complaints regarding the process of submitting a number of applications.
“We heard loud and clear that people didn’t want to have to travel to different ministry offices, from one to another, and in many cases from one community to another to do their business,” said Lekstrom.
Before FrontCounter BC was operational in Dawson Creek, district manager of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Rob Kopecky, said the office offered approximately 20 different permits.
“We were focused on forestry operations and forest tendering, having FrontCounter BC here is one step closer to retrieving that one-land-manager-type concept,” said Kopecky. “So it’s not only forestry now, it will include things like water, gravel pits, frac sands potentially, mine mineral tenor exploration, wind power, all that kind of stuff,” said Kopecky.
Lekstrom said this service is beneficial considering the northeast region is known for its resource industry. “There’s a great range of resource opportunities that we have in this province—outside of what we see primarily here which is oil and gas.”
As district manager, Kopecky expects and accepts that his work load will rise with the amount of permits offered. However, he added the increase in permits will not affect processing times. Currently they are processing applications quicker than the provincial standard.
“We have target time frames for all the different decisions. Just as an example, for a forestry act cutting permit tenor we have a target of 40 work days to process that application and we’ve been averaging about 27 to 28 days,” Kopecky said.
FrontCounter BC supports the ‘Canada Starts Here: BC Jobs Plan,’ by providing easier access to government services.
“Anytime that you can effectively create an opportunity for industry to come, find out the information that they need, get their permitting, help that flow of permitting through the system, it allows people to be in the ground quicker once they’ve met all the requirements, obviously, then creating jobs for the people of this region and around the province,” said Lekstrom.
A lot of permits are available online and as a long-term goal the D.C. office hopes to provide a public computer station, so clients can file electronically.
The Dawson Creek FrontCounter BC office is the fifth to open since January of this year and the 17th to open in B.C. since January 2011.
The office is located at 9000 17th Street, at the old Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources office.
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