Premier funds water, firefighter help for communities

NDP leader John Horgan says Premier Christy Clark's speech at UBCM convention a rewrite of her 2013 election campaign

In what looked and sounded like a road-test of her 2017 election campaign, Premier Christy Clark used her annual speech to municipal leaders Wednesday to announce new funds for water systems and benefits for forest firefighters.

Speaking to a packed room of local politicians at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria, Clark committed $148 million to a clean water and wastewater fund for communities. That funds a third of the costs, with federal contributions raised to 50 per cent, leaving local governments to raise the remainder.

Clark praised B.C. Government Employees’ Union president Stephanie Smith for pushing to extend her union’s benefits to seasonal forest fire-fighters, several of whom joined Clark and Smith to address the media after her speech. Smith said about 200 firefighters will receive benefits this year, and more in future years.

Clark also announced an additional $10 million to support a drug addiction treatment centre, research and health care training in response to the growing opioid overdose epidemic that has spread from B.C. across the country.

Clark touted the benefits of the Pacific Northwest LNG project in northwestern B.C., which was given federal approval this week. Taking questions after the speech, she would not predict when the Petronas-led group of Asian investors would proceed with the $36 billion investment, but said China and India in particular are anxious to move to natural gas as a cleaner fuel.

NDP leader John Horgan described Clark’s speech as a repackaging of her 2013 election campaign, with “B.C. first” replacing “families first” and a promise to eliminate operating debt replacing one to pay off all debt with natural gas revenues.

Horgan said the province needs to renew its focus on the forest industry. A sawmill in Merritt has announced it’s closing due to a lack of logs, while record log exports are being shipped out from coastal forests, he said.

“If we can send raw logs to Asia, we can get them up the Coquihalla,” Horgan said.

Clark said the B.C. and federal governments are focused on reaching a new lumber trade agreement with the United States, which appears poised to impose new duties on Canadian lumber as the old agreement runs out in October.

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: It’s Hometown Hockey time in Cowichan!

See our videos and pictures by our reporters from the big event at The Stick.

Column: Trump dangerous to Cowichan Valley’s economy

The tentacles of the controversial American president reach even into the Cowichan Valley.

Column David Suzuki: Large dams fail on climate change and Indigenous rights

Brazil has flooded large swaths of the Amazon for hydro dams

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Capture the Rain: Underground cistern helps rural couple expand gardens

Sandy McPherson and Alan Philip are continually working towards low-impact living.

VIDEO: It’s Hometown Hockey time in Cowichan!

See our videos and pictures by our reporters from the big event at The Stick.

Plan your Hometown Hockey weekend

Find your favourites on the Hometown Hockey schedule

Hometown Hockey: Cowichan Capitals events

On Jan. 20 there will be special features during the game for Hometown Hockey

Coming up in Cowichan: Rain workshop, Joseph Mairs Memorial, timely film

Participants are encouraged to bring their roof dimensions

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Most Read