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

OPINION: MP Rachel Blaney takes aim at coastal fisheries restrictions

“We all share in the responsibility of taking care of our salmon habitats and populations”

Northern Vancouver Island regional science fair winners – 2019

Daniel Kornylo won one of the 12 provincial science fair awards.

North Island Eagles select head coaches for upcoming season

“We appreciate the commitment each of you make to the club and to your teams”

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Hardy Bay Senior Citizens’ new greenhouse

“if it wasn’t for the volunteers this project wouldn’t have happened”

Port Hardy Pride Day will arrive in September

Port Hardy will be celebrating Pride Day on Sept. 14 at Carrot Park.

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

LETTER: The constant growth of the Harvest thrift store and food bank

“we now serve the complete Northern end of Vancouver Island – everyone North of Woss!”

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

Justin Trudeau’s carbon footprint revealed in ranking of world leaders

Travel company ranks 15 world leaders’ foreign flight CO2 emissions

B.C. First Nation’s group using ads in Texas targeting company for fuel spill

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

Most Read