British Columbia is Canada’s only economic bright spot and the federal government needs to financially back mega-projects in the province that are good for the country, said Premier Christy Clark
Clark met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday in Ottawa, where she said she pitched federal support for Metro Vancouver transit projects and a proposed billion-dollar upgrade of the hydro grid between B.C. and Alberta as a way to shut down Alberta’s use of coal-fired power plants.
The province needs federal dollars to keep the engine running, Clark said.
“When you look at the map of the country, the only bright spot you see is British Columbia because we’re strong, we’re diverse and we’re growing,” she said in a telephone interview. “We really are the only bright spot in the country right now. There’s so much uncertainty, such debt. So many people unemployed.”
Trudeau was in Alberta this week meeting with government, industry, labour and social service groups to find ways to blunt the economic downturn caused by falling oil prices.
The Royal Bank forecasts B.C.’s economy to lead Canada’s growth rate this year at 3.1 per cent and 2.9 per cent in 2017. The B.C. government, which is set to table its fourth consecutive surplus budget, has forecast growth at 2.4 per cent this year.
Clark said B.C. plans to apply for federal funding of the B.C.-Alberta hydro project to upgrade the grid between the provinces. She estimated the plan would cost about $1 billion.
“Alberta has promised to get off coal, finally. We can help them with energy so they can find a way to shut those coal plants.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s climate-change strategy calls for the mandatory end of emissions from Alberta coal-fired electrical plants by 2030.
Clark said she told Trudeau the power line would cut harmful greenhouse-gas emissions in Alberta.
“For us it’s great,” she said. “That’s profit for BC Hydro, which means it’s good for ratepayers. It’s also great for Canada because it means we are supplying Alberta with our clean energy so they can get off their coal habit.”
B.C. announced plans in December 2014 to build the Site C dam, a $9 billion hydroelectric project in the province’s northeast.
A delegation about 100 people from B.C., including business leaders and members of her cabinet, were in Ottawa meeting the federal government.
Clark said she and Trudeau also discussed much-needed infrastructure transit projects for Metro Vancouver, including the George Massey Tunnel replacement project, a key route to and from port facilities.
“Ending that (traffic) bottleneck in the George Massey Tunnel is just as important to Ontario as it is to the people in Tsawwassen,” Clark said. “That’s how they get their goods to market.”