08/22/2016 12:49 EDT | Updated 08/23/2017 01:12 EDT

Conservative critic calls for coal mine development in southeast B.C.

CRANBROOK, B.C. — The Conservative party's natural resources critic is calling on the federal Liberals to move forward with the development of a coal field near Cranbrook, B.C.

Candice Bergen says the government needs to stop focusing on "endless consultations" about the Dominion Coal Blocks in the East Kootenay region and get to work on approving the divestment of the Crown lands.

The MP for Portage-Lisgar in Manitoba says there is about 700 million tonnes of coal in the area and developing the mines would create jobs.

The federal government originally acquired the land in 1905 to build the Crowsnest Pass railway, but the Dominion Coal Blocks have never been fully utilized.

Bergen says she will visit the area and learn more about the issue before speaking out in Ottawa about the need for developing the mines.

Former Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks made efforts to divest the federal Crown land during his time in the House of Commons with no results.

Bergen says the Liberals need to build an environment that attracts investment and the development of the coal mines would do that.

"It's really important that these blocks are developed and that the Liberals take action. We really are disappointed with their lack of promotion of Canadian resources," Bergen says.