**This is the first of a monthly column that MLA Richard Neufeld will be writing for Energeticcity.ca**

I’ve been proud to serve as MLA for the Peace River North constituency since 1991. I’ve also been fortunate to be the provincial Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources since the BC Liberals formed government in 2001.

I’ve worked and lived in the northeast for most of my life and am proud to call this region my home. Serving the public is something I’ve been doing most of my life. Before I became a Councillor, and eventually Mayor, in Fort Nelson, I worked in the oil and gas industry.

When I was asked to write a column for the new Energetic City website I was happy to oblige and look forward to making this monthly column just one way that I update my constituents on what the provincial government is doing for northeastern British Columbia. I also hope to use this space to talk about the oil and gas industry and what its future holds in our province.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to encourage you to contact my office at any time about questions you may have about services offered by the provincial government. My office is located at 10104-100th Street in Fort St. John and can be reached by toll free at 1-866-263-0101 or via email at Richard.Neufeld.MLA@leg.bc.ca.

The new Fort St John hospital project continues to move forward. The new hospital will provide enhanced services for northeastern British Columbians when complete.

Earlier this summer I announced a pair of LocalMotion grants for the communities of Fort St. John and Hudson’s Hope respectively. In Fort St. John, the provincial government is providing over $387,000 for the Community Trail project which will see the construction of a 1.5 km long (and three metre wide) trail on 86th street from 101st to 109th Avenue. The trail not only runs through the sports field and playground area, but helps to link several neighbourhoods and different parts of the city. The trail will also enhance safety for residents who previously had to walk on the shoulder of the road where no sidewalk exists as trail users will be distanced from vehicle traffic.

Hudson’s Hope will receive approximately $4,400 to construct a paved wheelchair ramp from the road to the library.

The government also recently announced nearly $200,000 in funding from the Aboriginal Special Projects Fund for two programs that will focus on leadership and communication skills.

I’ve recently become a grandfather and find myself even more cognisant of the importance of leaving a better future for our children and their children. I’m confident that the work we are doing today will make for a brighter tomorrow.