Recent History – 2000
March 3, 2000
By Christine Podmore, Daily News Staff
DAWSON CREEK — Over 2,950 signatures have been given supporting the Peace Country joining Alberta. The petition began on Feb. 10 and is gaining 1,000 signatures a week, support organizer Cheryl Volk is very pleased with.
“I think it’s great we’re gathering 1,000 signatures a week,” said Volk. “We gathered 500 yesterday.”
Since the Feb. 10 protest where Volk and supporters flew the Alberta flag from the Mile 0 Post, ten additional separatist groups have popped up from Fort Nelson in the north to Tomslake in the south.
“We’ll either get recognition or we’ll go to the federal government,” Volk said.
Volk is amazed at the speed the movement has taken on, and the media coverage is also a surprise. Up to date, Volk has clipped 62 articles from newspapers including two-page features in the Edmonton Sun and Vancouver Province’s weekend editions.
The current secession is the fourth and strongest in the history of the Peace Country. Volk has set a goal of 20,000 signatures but if by the summer she does not receive that number she will look to supporters to plan the next step.
“If we want to push it, I believe 10,000 was a figure that would seem substantial,” said Volk. “We would like to have all the registered voters. If we don’t have it, we’ll do what our people want to do. We will no just let it die.”
The WCB smoking ban is the issue that triggered the quest for separation but Volk confirms it is not the only problem pushing the region eastward.
ICBC taxes in Alberta penalize citizens from the ages of 16-21, in B.C. citizens are penalized for a lifetime with fees. Agriculture is another problem, according to Volk, the farmers are starving to death, and even truckers are faced with set-backs in the Peace Country.
“I have received calls for Edmonton from people who have to travel through to get to Prince Rupert,” Volk said. “They’re not impressed. They phoned us to find out any stopping places where they can smoke.”
That is just the tourist says Volk, and furthermore the individuals she spoke to have decided to load up a van with everything they need, including alcohol and cigarettes, and will drive straight through.
Volk has also received calls from people in Vancouver who own property in the Peace and who want to support the separation.
Volk will continue to seek support and signatures, a relentless battle that has an uncertain future.
Signatures received from each region: Tomslake-50, Pouce Coupe-215, Dawson Creek-764, Fort St. John-914, Taylor-54, Rolla-16, Chetwynd-275, Farmington-31, Hudson Hope-171, Fort Nelson-171, and other outlying areas (Arras, Groundbirch, Moberly Lake, Cecil Lake, etc….)-338.