Premier Christy Clark speaks to local government representatives at their convention in Victoria Wednesday.

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

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

How the provincial budget will play out in northwestern B.C.

Price of gasoline to rise and expect MSP premiums to disppear

Snow bikers have a lucky escape on Claque Mountain

Their experience highlights the importance of being properly prepared in the backcountry

Access to naloxone kits made easier

They’re now available from pharmacies

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

VIDEO: What you need to know today at the B.C. Games

All 19 events are underway across Kamloops, where five to 10 cm of snow is expected to fall

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Mills Memorial Hospital financing formula released

Regional taxpayers to pay $113.7 million for new facility.

Hundreds march for justice in death of Winnipeg teen

Tina Fontaine was pulled from a river in 2014, her body wrapped in a blanket and weighed down by rocks

Maritimes want their own CFL team

Their biggest hurdle is getting a stadium commitment in place

Sask. school shooter to be sentenced as adult

The man was just shy of his 18th birthday when he killed four people and injured seven others

Internet questions PM’s fashion choices in India

The Trudeaus’ eight-day visit has been dogged by various controversies since it began Feb. 17

Adopted potbelly pig killed and eaten on Vancouver Island

Animal had been adopted out from the SPCA in Duncan; staff are devastated by news

Most Read