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

Sunshine Valley songbird releases EP

Fifteen-year-old Ashley Pater has been singing and performing since age 9

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Hope arena turns green for hockey tourney

A second attempt at green ice, with proper ice paint, after food colouring experiment last year

Project Hope celebrates first birthday

Also: lego-mania comes to town, lineup of all-female comedians entertains Friday

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

UPDATED: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

Most Read