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Clark says Canada depending on BC for growth

RBC forecasts the province’s economy to lead growth rate this year at 3.1%.


BC Premier Christy Clark said British Columbians can expect a fourth-consecutive balanced budget presented later this month

BC Premier Christy Clark said British Columbians can expect a fourth-consecutive balanced budget presented later this month

VICTORIA — Premier Christy Clark says her government is returning to the legislature determined to stick to its big-picture goals of pursuing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and completing the $9-billion Site C hydroelectric dam.

The BC Liberal government will lay out its plans in its Throne speech Feb. 9, just 15 months away from the next election. Clark’s promises from the last election of a liquefied national gas bonanza haven’t been realized so far, but the premier said BC is still the top performing economy in the country.

She said British Columbians can expect a fourth-consecutive balanced budget presented later this month and targeted funding for health, social and housing initiatives, but with the overriding perspective of steady growth.

The Royal Bank forecasts BC’s economy to lead Canada’s growth rate this year at 3.1% and 2.9% in 2017. The BC government has forecast growth at 2.4% this year.

Clark said those predictions are an added responsibility as other jurisdictions struggle with downturns and job losses.

“Canada really is depending on BC to perform because none of the other provinces are really able to make big contributions in terms of jobs and national revenues,” she said.

The government is not prepared to take huge risks during uncertain economic times, she said.

“We will be making some new investments, frankly we haven’t been able to make for a few years. You are going to see some things in the budget like support for home buyers in the Lower Mainland.”

The government has said it was examining changing the thresholds for the property-purchase tax in order to help more first-time home buyers enter the market in Metro Vancouver where the average price for single-family detached homes in Greater Vancouver reached over $1.2 million.

Clark also suggested funding would be available for family social programs and medical costs.

“But it means sticking to the plan,” she said. “It means sticking to our guns on the projects that we’re embracing. It means sticking to our guns on LNG. Site C, we’re going to make sure that happens and then we’ll start to see, I hope, some of the benefits of the tech strategy.”

Clark has been pursuing LNG as a new industry since she became Liberal leader in 2011, but it has failed to get past the planning stage.

Last week, Royal Dutch Shell delayed its final investment decision on a proposed multibillion-dollar LNG export terminal near Kitimat, on BC’s northwest coast.

The BC government has said that Petronas, a Malaysian state-backed energy giant, is awaiting federal cabinet approval of its proposed $36-billion LNG plant near Prince Rupert.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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