Lawrence Woodall's cartoon on the Conservative Budget

Question Period Surreal

Columnist Claire Travena discusses the past week at the Legislature in Victoria

It has been an engaging week at the Legislature in Victoria, with debate on bills that will bring changes to the liquor laws and the new Societies Act which will govern charities and not for profits.

Question Period has swept from the somber to the surreal. Among the topics we discussed were the consequences of the very sad death of a young man in Surrey in a gang shooting and why the staff of the Minister in charge of freedom of information blocked freedom of information requests.

Much of my week in the Legislature centred on my shadow cabinet role, looking at the way the government is spending its Transportation budget. That means a lot of detailed questions as well as the opportunity for political discussions.

My focus on ferries was the capital budget – the renewal of the ferry fleet. I was particularly concerned that millions of dollars were spent on refitting the Queen of Chilliwack, which used to run on the central coast and then the vessel was almost immediately taken out of commission.

Meanwhile the Minister acknowledged that the 16-vehicle Nimpkish, which replaced it on the route from Bella Bella to Bella Coola, will likely be taken out of service in just two years.

I also raised concerns about the Minister’s efforts to reduce crewing levels.

The minister has indicated that he is negotiating with Ottawa to reduce them, even though they are based on safety needs.

And I asked about the $1,200 daily allowance for BC Ferries’ directors, which they receive when they attend meetings, as well as why they and their families have free ferry passes, while BC seniors now have to pay for every sailing they use.

And, I put some emphasis on the major highway projects, especially the $600 million Sea to Sky highway as well as the Port Mann bridge.

The latter is 120 per cent over budget at $3.3 billion (and rising) while vehicles are still avoiding it and, unlike BC Ferries, there is a reluctance to increase the toll for fear of losing even more traffic.

It is very worrying that retaining walls on the Sea to Sky highway are already in need of repair, even though the rebuild of the highway is only five years old. Under the public private partnership under which the Sea to Sky was rebuilt, the province will be paying another $1billion for the next 25 years.

Earlier in the week I wrote to the head of the BC Utilities Commission asking for a review of the two-tier billing system introduced by BC Hydro.

I have heard from many constituents about how punitive this is for people who have no alternative but electricity to heat their homes.

In addition there are no programmes available for retrofitting homes to reduce electricity costs.

And I continue to pursue improved connectivity for the North Island.

Everyone knows that it is both economically and socially necessary, but it is a matter of engaging key people to make it a reality. The Minister responsible has not championed rural connectivity but I will continue to make this a priority.  I can always be reached by email at Claire.trevena.mla@leg.bc.ca, or by phone in Campbell River on 250 287 5100, in Port Hardy on 250 949 9473. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @clairetrevena or check out my web page www.clairetrevena.ca

 

Just Posted

People’s Party of Canada plan to have a candidate in the North Island-Powell River riding

Elections Canada formally recognized the North Island—Powell River PPC Association

NVIATS takes over NIEFS space in Thunderbird Mall

“We were approached by NIEFS, they’re going to be downsizing”

Port Hardy Reigns compete in Nanaimo at Island Championships

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity for our youth in Port Hardy”

Derina Harvey Band – Heartfelt, Energetic, Celtic rock comes to Port Hardy

Front-woman Derina Harvey leads this Celtic-rock act, who offer an authentic east-coast experience.

OPINION: Urgent care room will cost lives

“Seniors, of any demographic, are the most vulnerable to the loss of emergency care.”

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

PHOTOS: Inside the ‘shoe house’ in Northern B.C.

A rare look inside the famous Kitseguecla Lake Road shoe house, with a tour led by owner Toby Walsh

Most Read