Christy Clark is wasting no time giving the riding she wants to represent a higher profile.
Clark, currently running for her governing Liberals in the Westside-Kelowna byelection, is slated to meet with Alberta Premier Alison Redford in Kelowna Friday. The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Delta Grand Hotel.
The two women, whose relationship has been described as “frosty” in the past over Clark’s demand that five conditions be met before B.C. would support the Northern Gateway oil pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to Prince Rupert on the northern B.C. coast, are expected to try and patch things up during their meeting here.
Just before the May 14 B.C. election, the Liberal government said it was officially not supporting the pipeline because the conditions it set forth, including calls for oil-spill prevention and response plans, addressing aboriginal and treaty rights, and increasing the financial compensation to B.C. because of the risks it will take concerning potential oil spills, have not been met.
The Opposition NDP has already come out against the pipeline proposal.
Clark and Redford are expected to discuss the pipeline proposal, which will be decided by the federal government, at their meeting in Kelowna.
On Thursday Clark met with the Kelowna and West Kelowna municipal councils to discuss what she described as local priorities.
Clark told reporters she learned about the need for a sobering station in Kelowna and the city’s need for help in getting Interior Health to consolidate its administration operations downtown.
IHA is planning to move as many as 1,000 of its employees into an office tower it plans to build downtown at the corner of Doyle Avenue and Ellis Street. To help that happen, the city is planning to build a new parkade across the street, beside Memorial Arena, and expand the existing Library Parkade at a combined price of $19 million.
The premier said from West Kelowna council she heard about the need to fix Westside Road, that the municipality needs help with its downtown area in Westbank and needs assistance with flooding mitigation efforts.
“There are a number of local issues where the province can play a role,” said Clark, who is running in the byelection in Westside-Kelowna to replace MLA Ben Stewart. “As premier, I should be able to deliver.”
Stewart easily held the seat for the Liberals in the provincial election May 14 but stepped down to let Clark run after she lost her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey. The Westside-Kelowna riding includes West Kelowna and the downtown portion of Kelowna.
The byelection is scheduled for July 10.
During the campaign, Clark said she plans to split her time between being in Victoria once the B.C. Legislature returns later this month and being in the riding campaigning. She said she wants to hear directly from local residents about what they want from their MLA.
Meanwhile, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce says it is planning to hold an all-candidates debate for the byelection.
Caroline Glover, executive director of the chamber said NDP candidate Carole Gordon and B.C. Conservative candidate Sean Upshaw have both accepted invitations to participate and the chamber is waiting for Clark to respond. The date and location of the debate have not yet been made public.
On Thursday, Clark said she is willing to participate in all-candidates debates during the byelection campaign and would like to do so, but her particiation will depend on the timing and her availability in light of her duties as premier.
Clark did not participate in any all-candidate debates in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding during the recent provincial election campaign. She lost that riding to the NDP’s David Eby.