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

‘Surrounding a community with a fire break won’t help’

RDCK offers fire danger assessments to homeowners

LETTER: 140,000 jobs are at risk

From reader Robert MacCrae

LETTER: Grateful for guardian angels

From reader Botella (Bo) Rudolph

LETTER: Bike lanes overdue

From reader Nancy Rosenblum

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Most Read