Transit is fundamental to shaping a sustainable, affordable future for communities. Your government heard more needs to be done, and more will.
With the confidence of this house, your government will:
- match federal funding to build rapid transit along Metro Vancouver’s Broadway Corridor and in Surrey;
- match federal funding for the next phase of the mayors’ transit plan; and
- repeal the requirement for new transit revenue sources to be affirmed by referendum in Metro Vancouver.
Metro Vancouver mayors will have the tools and accountability they have asked for to fund transit.
Beyond those immediate commitments, we must look further and farther.
Your government will boost capital investment in partnership with other levels of government and the private sector to significantly expand a transit network that will transform the Lower Mainland.
Better transit must connect housing and employment, and must lead to more supply and density with purposeful decision-making.
Your government will immediately undertake feasibility studies to connect communities by rapid transit, light rail and other means of expanded transit:
- east from the Evergreen Line toward Maple Ridge and Mission;
- into South Surrey;
- into Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack;
- west to the University of British Columbia;
- across to the North Shore; and
- up to Squamish.
Your government will also work with Washington State to connect communities across the border to unleash the economic potential of high-speed rail to Seattle.
Other areas of the province also experiencing growth need transit support too – like the South Island, Nanaimo, Kelowna, Kamloops, and Prince George. Your government will pursue light rail on the South Island and a passenger ferry connection between Nanaimo and Vancouver.
This vision won’t happen overnight, but we must be bolder in mapping out our future to shape growth.
BC Ferries is finally on a solid financial footing. They have acquired 11 new vessels since 2000, are transitioning vessels to LNG from diesel, and on-time performance has improved to 91 per cent. Your government will carry through on its commitment to deliver fare relief for those in ferry-dependent communities.
And for British Columbians looking for other modern options to get from A to B, your government will deliver on its commitments to support car and ride sharing.
While all parties in this legislature publicly stated their support for ride sharing in the recent election, your government has heard the message that legitimate implementation concerns remain. Any proposed legislation will be referred to an all-party committee for extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders, in particular regarding boundaries and insurance.
Your government has heard the concerns of people who are served by tolled provincial highway infrastructure. Since investments such as Trans-Canada Highway upgrades, the Sea to Sky Highway, the WR Bennett Bridge, and the Cariboo Connector are not tolled, all communities should be treated equitably.
With the confidence of this house, your government will move to eliminate tolls on the Port Mann Bridge as quickly as possible.
Your government will also work with TransLink to accelerate the timetable for the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, and to remove tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge.
An expanded crossing between Richmond and Delta is essential to reducing congestion, ensuring safety, and providing for future light rail. Recognizing concerns about the design, your government will listen and work collaboratively to move this project forward.
These changes are affordable with the province’s strong fiscal position, without compromising our commitment to balanced budgets.
Post-secondary, ABE and ESL
Post-secondary institutions are essential to powering up the economy of the future.
Your government will create 2,000 more graduates in science, technology, engineering and math from institutions across the province. This will include new engineering schools in Kamloops and Prince George, as well as 100 new graduates at the new engineering building at SFU Surrey.
These spaces will support our students to develop the skills our economy needs to continue to grow.
British Columbia’s post-secondary and creative sectors are responding to the major shifts in digital technologies. Your government will double funding for the BC Arts Council to build capacity to lead in the new economy, and uphold our province’s commitment to the value of creativity and innovation.
And as we welcome people from around the world to make B.C. their home, we need to ensure newcomers can put their ideas, energy, and skills to work.
To that end, your government will fully fund adult basic education and ESL programs, and continue to expand the system of credit recognition so that fewer are left on the sidelines.
And while B.C. continues to grow, the benefits also come with real challenges – especially for affordability.
Despite actions that have had a real impact, housing affordability remains a particular challenge for far too many people.
Your government’s singular goal is to ensure housing is affordable for British Columbians.
We all want to live in communities that are culturally and economically diverse, so we must ensure the middle class is not pushed out of urban real estate markets. Our kids want to be able to live in the communities they grew up in, and we all want to live in communities where our kids can live too.
Last year, your government invested $900 million into building new affordable supportive housing across the province. People will begin to move into these 5,000 new units over the coming months.
The single most important action governments can take to make housing more affordable is to work with local governments and the private sector to increase supply.
With the confidence of this House, your government will work with local governments and the private sector to increase the supply of family and starter housing for middle income earners, especially along new transit lines and corridors.
Your government will work with the private sector to build 50,000 units of new housing across the province over 10 years that will go into a new Rent-to-Own home program available to middle class families. The program will help middle class renters grow equity through their monthly rent payments until they are in a position to own the home.
With the confidence of this House, your government will work with and support municipalities to remove obstacles and eliminate backlogs to speed up the construction of new housing supply, especially for families.
To better protect renters, your government will:
- prohibit landlords from skirting rent control protections when term leases expire; and
- make sure tenants’ rights are protected while respecting a landlord’s ability to make improvements to their buildings.
Addressing housing affordability rests with all levels of governments. Your government will bring together and welcome the ideas from all parties and participants at a Housing Summit to be convened this fall. Real estate speculation will be one of the challenges put before participants.
The wealth of our province has always depended on the understanding that the future of urban and rural communities is inextricably linked – one cannot succeed without the other.
And although most of our population lives in thriving urban centres, we must never forget that those who live in smaller communities make as big an impact on our province. Rural communities are uniquely connected to the land and our resources.
This connection between urban and rural is why B.C. has succeeded, and this election shows why we must redouble our efforts to bridge the divide.
With a strong economy and the strongest balance sheet in Canada, your government will double the Rural Economic Dividend, returning more resource revenue to the rural communities responsible for so much of our province’s wealth.
Supporting rural communities also means making sure the industries they depend on remain strong.
British Columbia’s forest industry built our province. Today, our forest products are building houses and towers around the world.
Your government will increase its efforts to promote the use of B.C. wood abroad, and will fight to defend B.C. workers in the forest industry from U.S. protectionism by every means at its disposal.
In the interim, B.C. will pre-purchase wood for construction of public housing at home.
Your government will work to open eight new mines by 2022, and will ensure it bolsters B.C.’s world leading responsible mining standards with $18 million to improve mine permitting, oversight, compliance, and enforcement.
Food security also matters in British Columbia – it is an issue that bridges the urban-rural divide. As we continue to grow, we need to protect and preserve agricultural land.
Your government will:
- double the Grow Local program and make it permanent;
- bring an additional 91,000 hectares of agricultural land into production by 2020;
- activate an all-party select standing committee to study how B.C.’s agricultural land can be used and stewarded; and
- ensure all high-quality farmland lost as a result of the Site C project is replaced with comparable land in other parts of the province.
Finally, British Columbia boasts some of the world’s richest and largest natural gas reserves. This gives us a unique opportunity to displace coal power and other dirtier forms of fossil fuels around the world.
A new LNG industry has included First Nations from the ground floor, through a bottom-up process of consultation. LNG will be an unprecedented opportunity for First Nation communities across British Columbia, helping lift families out of poverty and strengthening their ability to shape the future of their choosing.
The first Indigenous Cabinet minister elected to this place who carries a government portfolio is responsible for shepherding the future of this industry. After 146 years since this legislature was founded, this is long overdue. He will carry the voice of Indigenous peoples who demand to be a full partner in economic opportunity into this place.
Whether it is LNG, mining, forestry, aquaculture, renewable power, tourism or other industries where partnerships are being formed, and as a result, First Nations here in British Columbia are enjoying more benefits than ever before. Over 400 economic and reconciliation agreements have been signed since 2013, and we all still have so much potential to realize together.
Members. Just this past Monday, Indigenous leaders and mentors from across Canada, including British Columbia, were recognised with national honours at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, and I was delighted to be witness to that special ceremony.
Yesterday was National Aboriginal Day – a day that Canadians recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions of Indigenous peoples.
It is a reminder of the hard and essential work of reconciliation that your government is committed to, nation-to-nation.
There is still much work ahead, and we must travel this journey together.