Common theme at UBCM

Communities told again and again; no money available

If there was one over-riding theme at the UBCM conference in Victoria last week it was that the provincial government was not going to handing out a lot of money.

“There was a definite theme of no money,” said Kimberley Mayor Ron McRae.  “We heard it over and over. I don’t mean that to be critical — the province is on the ropes when it comes to finances. All the Ministers we spoke to were receptive to hearing what we had to say; at the Mayors’ Caucus we made it known that infrastructure funding was at the forefront. But there is no money.”

Even Premier Christy Clark’s speech on Friday was pre-committing funds for the future, McRae said.

“That means essentially there is no capital money for two years. But they were hearing us — it’s just that given the financial constraints, they can’t commit to any funds right now.”

Premier Clark announced several hundred million in future infrastructure funding for such projects as the George Massey Tunnel in Vancouver and twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border in her speech.

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald (NDP) says that given all the talk about lack of funds at UBCM, there is a bit of a disconnect to promises of new funding.

“The Premier is raising hopes on the Trans Canada. But the money is not in the capital plan now and it has not been made clear where the funding is coming from,” Macdonald said.

He says significant work has been done on the Trans Canada and he appreciates it but would prefer to see more detail on where these funds were coming from before an announcement such as the Premier made.

Doug Clovechok, who will run for the BC Liberals in this riding, is pleased about the funding announcement.

“In my riding, Columbia River Revelstoke, I am absolutely ecstatic about the Trans Canada Highway announcement.  I have been personally working very hard over the past year to heighten our governments and Premiers awareness of how critical this issue is. I had the opportunity to be with Premier Clark on her visits to Revelstoke and Golden and was able to show and discuss with her first hand the challenges that we face with conditions associated with the Trans Canada Highway.  Her ten year commitment of $509 million dollars to the twining of the highway to the Alberta boarder, along with monies that will be matched by federal dollars, demonstrates she not only listened; she heard us loud and clear. It is an exciting time for British Columbians with lots more to come.”

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