BC Liberal platform looks at Island needs

As well as an all encompassing platform, this campaign season the Liberals also released a Vancouver Island specific platform.

“For us it’s important that the Island is being recognized as it’s own economic zone,” said Dallas Smith, North Island candidate.

“It was nice that they went to Island people to build an Island platform and put some substance behind it.”

Smith believes the proposed salmon centre of excellence is one of the highlights of that platform for the constituency.

“We want to work with the academic community to provide an independent science base to protect wild salmon and also learn as much as we can about interaction with farmed salmon,” he said.

According to the platform, this is part of the Liberal’s plan to drive B.C. forward. The plan includes increasing export of agrifood and seafood products by 20 per cent by 2020, ensuring an additional 91,000 hectares of agricultural land is in production by 2020, supporting the construction of the new Agriplex in Comox and providing funding for research into closed containment finfish aquaculture.

They also intend on taking further steps to encourage British Columbians to grow and buy local food.

Another issue Smith is pleased was included in the platform is the training credit for truck loggers.

“With the training credit we are able to bridge one of those gaps and make sure people are getting on the ground experience so they can be hired into these job openings and be trained properly so they are safe and efficient and have some continuous flow in the labour force,” he said.

Other supports for forestry in the Liberal platform include negotiating a new Softwood Lumber Agreement, committing $5 million a year to grow markets overseas, providing $9 million in support for the implementation of the Forest Carbon Initiative and increasing wood fibre utilization in B.C.’s interior by one million cubic metres by the end of 2018, among many other things.

Smith also highlighted what the Liberals plan to do about BC Ferries.

“We feel the tax credit we have introduced will bridge the gap until BC Ferries has the technological capabilities to be able to make it work from a frequent users point of view, which is really important for ferry dependent Island communities,” he said.

The platform promises that the Liberals will create a loyalty program, re-introduce a new, sustainable ferry service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola to be operational in time for the summer 2018 tourist season and provide $1 million to boost coverage and reliability for wifi services on ferries and in parking lots.

Smith said the platform also addresses expanding the tourism sector.

“One of the other issues we’ve looked at broadening is how tourism fits within the North Island from a little more of a practical perspective, what can we do to help enhance the tourism industry,” he said.

The platform suggests the Liberals will do this through consistent funding for Destination BC, contributing $500,000 over the next two years to help implement Tourism Vancouver Island’s hiking tourism master plan and undertaking a new Cathedral Grove Provincial Park master plan.

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BC Votes 2017