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Federal budget includes some Campbell River area perks

On the August long weekend of 1993, 14-year-old Lindsey Nicholls went for a walk along a Cumberland road and was never seen again.

Her mother Judy Peterson has never stopped searching for her daughter and Tuesday she sat in MP John Duncan’s Ottawa office just before the federal government finally announced it would support “Lindsey’s Law.”

“I was absolutely delighted. I took a strong personal advocacy stance on this issue,” the veteran North Island MP said Wednesday.

Tuesday was budget day in Parliament. Included in the promises was $8.1 million to support a new DNA databank for missing persons and deceased victims.

Once deemed “too expensive” by the Conservative government, Duncan lobbied cabinet ministers to support the legislation which is due to come into a effect in 2016. The MP though is hopeful the DNA legislation for missing persons could be implemented by 2015.

But the money is just a “drop in the bucket” as the Conservatives continued to reel-in spending as it moves towards a balanced budget beginning in 2015.

“It’s prudent fiscal management,” said Duncan during a phone interview.

For the North Island, there were a few items in the budget which should benefit the riding.

The first is the extension of the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit. Last year, new aerial mapping of the North Island was conducted and the information released to the public.

The maps offer a huge amount of new data to prospectors who are expected to spend millions scouting out mineral deposits and potential new mines.

“I considered that (tax credit) one of my babies,” said Duncan.

Another continued program is the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program. Campbell River benefited from the first $10-million when funding was granted for new spawning beds in the river.

Now, the program has been bumped up to $25 million. Duncan said B.C. was granted about $2.5 million from the first fund and is hopeful one-quarter will be designated from the new funding.

“This is a very good way to leverage resources because we’re partnering with volunteers,” he said.

The federal government will also offer a $450 tax credit to search and rescue volunteers. This was done, said Duncan, to match the tax credit which volunteer firefighters receive.

“I think we’re recognizing their contribution,” he said, but added that Ottawa won’t support much-needed equipment purchases because, “it’s a provincial responsibility…there would be no end if we stepped in.”

The feds will also spend $305-million over the next five years to improve broadband internet service in rural and remote areas.

In this riding, Duncan said areas include some remote West Coast communities and around Forbidden Plateau in the Comox Valley.

The Campbell River Chamber of Commerce also applauded the Conservative’s thrifty budget.

“We’re pleased to see a prudent, fiscally-conservative budget that nonetheless supports two key priorities of the chamber: skills development and infrastructure,” said Colleen Evans, chamber president and CEO, in a news release. “We would, however, urge the government to continue to work hard to ensure the Canada Jobs Grant is palatable to businesses and the provinces, so that it achieves its goal of triggering new investment in training.”

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