Surrounded by her supporters, Cariboo Chilcotin Liberal candidate Donna Barnett is declared the winner of her riding Tuesday evening while at her 100 Mile House campaign office. Max Winkelman photo

Liberals sweep Cariboo ridings

Barnett and Oakes declared winners in provincial election

Liberal incumbents Coralee Oakes and Donna Barnett have maintained a Liberal stronghold in the Cariboo.

Declared the winner, Barnett said she was feeling very good after saying earlier in the evening she was “shaking” as the poll results started coming in.

“We will see who forms government, but if it’s the opposition then I’ll make sure they keep every one of the promises they made during the campaign,” Barnett said. “No matter what, I will work for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.”

Land use is the main issue for the region, Barnett said of her priorities once the government is back at work.

“We have treaty negotiations, the Nenqay Deni Accord with the Tsilhqot’in, the Allowable Annual Cut and all those long-term issues that are tied to land use,” she said. “We need to engage more people in these issues and become more transparent as a government.”

After Cariboo North Liberal incumbent Coralee Oakes was declared the winner following what was predicted to be a tight race, she said it was a “tremendous” relief.

“I can tell you that all the candidates in this riding worked so incredibly hard,” Oakes told the Tribune. “I have never run in a campaign like this where everyone worked so diligently. The volunteers for all the campaigns were tremendous.”

Once the government resumes, Oakes said her priorities will be to focus on “significant” projects that are already underway.

“We are still working on a couple of road connections for example the Purden that would connect Wells and Barkerville through to the ancient forest so that’s important to the region for tourism,” Oakes said. “It would tie in for a tourism route to Likely and for the whole Cariboo as well.”

Three-phase power is a priority for mining opportunities and finding ways to better support agriculture, she added.

“I am so incredibly proud of Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake and the applied sustainable ranching program,” she said. “These are the types of programs we need to help our community to diversify.”

Small communities are so dependent on a small business economy that it’s important to make sure people are working, she said.

As of 10:35 p.m. Tuesday 55 of 57 polls reported Oakes holding 51.45 per cent of the votes with 5,794, while Barnett held 59.36 per cent of the votes with 7,621.