VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The BC NDP is pledging to complete the Surrey-Langley Skytrain expansion as part of $9 billion more in infrastructure funding, while the Liberals countered on Thursday by promising to eliminate the small business tax and offering help to the hospitality and tourism sector, both hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NDP Leader John Horgan said his party’s plan sets out $3.1 billion to complete the Surrey-Langley Skytrain project. Of that, $1.6 billion was previously committed by all partners for the first stage to Fleetwood.
The NDP, if re-elected in the Oct. 24 provincial election, promises another $1.5 billion for the portion to Langley, with help from the federal government.
The remaining portion of the $9 billion would go to building roads, according to the NDP. The party’s overall $32 billion infrastructure plan would create 18,000 jobs.
“We want to make this a provincial project,” Horgan said of the SkyTrain expansion. “So that takes the pressure off municipalities. It takes pressure off TransLink. We’re going to fund it. The municipalities will have to find their share. I’ll work with the federal government, as I’ve been doing for the past number of years, to make sure that we get our fair share of the dollars we send to Ottawa coming back here to build the communities that we want to live in.”
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) October 8, 2020
Horgan added SkyTrain to Langley is overdue.
“It connects this community to the rest of the Lower Mainland,” he said.
“Twenty-three billion dollars, plus $9 billion is a lot of money for construction jobs. But we get something out of that — we get an opportunity to train the next generation of skilled workers. British Columbia has been built by working people. We need to make sure that training is there for their kids and their grandkids.”
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson focused on small business and tourism on Thursday, but also said his party previously supported the SkyTrain expansion project.
“The Liberal government is the one that invented the project in the first place,” he said. “Rapid Transit to Langley has been on the books for about 10 years, and the issue has been the financing with the municipalities. So we’re glad to hear that John Horgan is prepared to commit to what the BC Liberals have always supported. And the question now is, is he prepared to pay for the municipal share or not? And if John Horgan doesn’t have the answer to that, this is just another repetition of BC Liberal infrastructure planning.”
Q would you suppport surrey-langley skytrain?@Wilkinson4BC the liberals are who created the project in the first place – 10 years ago- the issue being the muni part of the payment. If @jjhorgan doesn’t have a solution to that there is no change.#bcpoli #bcvotes2020 @NEWS1130
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) October 8, 2020
Wilkinson said the Liberals, if elected, would cut the two per cent tax on small businesses, as well as provide more support to the struggling tourism and hospitality sector.
“In British Columbia, we don’t need to have it,” he said of the tax. “In Manitoba, it was abolished a decade ago, and we’re going to do the same thing with under BC Liberal government. This will have a real impact on the bottom line of businesses so they can reinvest, hire more people, and get on with the business of trying to be successful in this tough economy.”
He said the Liberals also promise to provide bridge financing to the tourism and hospitality sector.
“We’ve heard from far too many tourism and hospitality operators and restaurants that they may not survive the winter. They may be bankrupt by Christmas. What they need is the financing to keep themselves alive over the winter, and hopefully we’ll have a vaccine in 2021 so they can come back to life and get on with the business of working and building this economy, and building their lives.”
On Wednesday, the BC Green Party promised to dedicate $300 million to create a six-month rent subsidy program for small businesses. Those with less than $50,000 in monthly rent costs would get a 25 per cent subsidy.
The Greens also promised to retool and expedite the provincial grant program to help small tourism operators.