Clark: Engaging municipalities to improve economic prospects

The task ahead for all municipal and provincial leaders is to chart a course to a more prosperous future.

Every year, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Conference puts mayors and councillors from across the province in the same room to talk. They share best practices, exchange ideas, network, and meet with provincial government officials.

This year’s theme, “charting a course” was particularly appropriate, because that’s the task ahead of all municipal and provincial leaders; to chart a course to a more prosperous future, while navigating the challenges posed by growth.

As I told delegates, that starts with controlling spending and sticking to our plan—the BC Jobs Plan.

It’s a long-term plan, one that earned us a continued triple-A credit rating from Moody’s this month.

That has meant some tough decisions—last week, thanks to the leadership of CUPE and our negotiators, we secured a framework agreement that increases school support staff wages, without asking taxpayers for a penny more.

And because we’ve controlled spending, we’re able to make investments that will help grow the economy, such as four-laning of the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border, and the creation of our Blue Ribbon Panel to study crime reduction opportunities, chaired by MLA Darryl Plecas, an internationally-respected criminologist.

I also asked Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations and Kelowna-Mission MLA, to take on an additional role as Minister Responsible for Rural Development.

It’s no secret that a significant component of our plan is taking advantage of the opportunity presented by LNG.

And while our surplus supply is primarily in the north, LNG will create 100,000 jobs throughout the province.

To help ensure B.C. businesses benefit, we announced an LNG-Buy BC Program.

Our government will connect local businesses—such as the growing tech sector in the Central Okanagan—to the multi-national corporations building their projects.

The LNG transformation is already happening.

For example, Chevron Apache has already invested $800 million just to get their site ready to build. They already have 500 people on the ground—working right now.

In total, $7 billion has already been spent to secure the rights to ship LNG from B.C.

Seven companies have applied for export licenses, and three facilities already have licences approved.

If we’re going to realize the opportunity, we have to put politics behind us and welcome everyone to the table.

That’s why I reached out to private sector unions; we’re working towards the same thing—making sure British Columbians are first in line for the jobs that will come.

Since I’ve become premier, I’ve focused on the things that matter to real people—improving economic prospects for them, their families, and their kids; on growing the economy, and securing a more prosperous future.

Over the last two years, we’ve stuck to our plan. To keep us on that path and stick to the plan, we need to work together.

Because when we work together, the sky’s the limit.

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