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B.C. throne speech promises billions in infrastructure spending

JOC News Service
B.C. throne speech promises billions in infrastructure spending

The B.C. government is committing to investing $10 billion in infrastructure. In her speech from the throne, Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon detailed the spending.

Guichon said that the government has committed $1.7 billion to new infrastructure over the next three years, and invested $1.3 billion in more than 160 completed school-related seismic projects, with more to come over the next three years.

From schools to other vital infrastructure the province is investing $10 billion – for new hospitals, highways and roads and other projects like the Surrey LRT and Broadway subways, and the George Massey Tunnel replacement project.

Guichon also spoke about the massive Site C Dam project.

"That project has created almost 1,900 jobs already and 33,000 total person-years of employment over the life of the project," said Guichon. "Your government is preparing for the future with the Site C dam that will provide clean and affordable power for a growing B.C. for a hundred years."

She said the province will be ready for 2 million more people who will come to make their home here in the next 25 years.

Guichon acknowledged setbacks to the development of the province’s highly anticipated LNG industry, stating that "unforeseen headwinds have created challenging conditions," but touted the Woodfibre LNG project, which has made a final investment decision. Other LNG projects continue to move forward in British Columbia with over $20 billion invested already – including large projects on the cusp of making a decision in the next two years.

"World markets may go up and down. But bringing home the generational opportunity of LNG remains within reach because of the work that has been done in our province," Guichon said. "A fiscal framework that gives certainty to investors, and ensures BC is globally competitive as markets recover. Strengthened and enduring partnerships with 29 of 32 First Nations."

She added that the government will continue to work with proponents, and ensure British Columbians have the skills to be first in line for those jobs that will come through the Skills for Jobs Blueprint strategy.

Guichon addressed concerns on pipeline construction which she said must be done responsibly by protecting the environment with world leading systems, fairness for British Columbians, opportunities for First Nations and Aboriginal peoples, and regulatory review and certification.

"These are the core principles of British Columbia’s Five Conditions on new or expanded heavy-oil pipelines," she said. "For more than four years, your government stood up for BC with those conditions – in a clear, consistent and principled way."

She explained that before the Trudeau government approved the Kinder Morgan Project, the province took action on an historic Ocean Protection Plan committing to world-leading protection for B.C.’s coast. Government has also reached a revenue-sharing agreement with the proponent for up to a billion dollars over 20 years.

"BC will invest every penny of that in projects brought forward by community groups throughout our province to protect and enhance our environment," she said.

The Lieutenant-Governor also observed the risks facing British Columbia, from rising protectionism in Europe and the United States, slow global economic growth, and low commodity prices. The government is updating the BC Jobs Plan, launching a Rural Economic Development Strategy to help small communities cope with immediate challenges and diversify their economies, and appointing a special envoy for softwood lumber, based in the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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