I Believe in Preparing our Rural Communities for the Opportunities of the Future

Our Province is uniquely positioned to harness our natural environment, but we need to do it more efficiently. We will strive to be world leaders in resource development while effectively diversifying the economy, ensuring that we don’t lose the people and the culture of our rural communities.

In British Columbia, we need to prepare our rural communities to meet the opportunities of the future. Our Province is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the bounty of our natural environment, but we need to do it more efficiently. I believe we should strive to be world leaders in resource development while effectively diversifying the economy, ensuring that we don’t lose the people and the culture of our rural communities to our cities.

As the next leader of the BC Liberal Party, and next Premier of British Columbia, I will…

Rural Economic Strategy

British Columbia’s rural communities have traditionally relied upon the extraction of natural resources in order to thrive. While mining, forestry, oil & gas exploration and fishing remain rural economic mainstays, we need to make strategic investments in order to help these communities diversify, making them more stable and more prosperous going forward.

BC Rural Dividend Fund

We will double the BC Rural Dividend Fund to $50 million dollars per year, to assist rural communities with a population of 25,000 or less to reinvigorate and diversify their local economies. This Dividend Fund is to recognize the contribution that rural communities have traditionally made to British Columbia and to address the unique challenges they face to diversify beyond natural resources.

Rural Tech Strategy

In today’s virtual world – with Wi-Fi, fibre optic cable, cell phone coverage and FaceTime – there is no reason why tech companies cannot be located in rural communities. Presently, high speed internet is available to 95% of British Columbians. There are now vibrant, thriving tech companies located in Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna, and Kamloops.

We will be releasing a Policy on Technology and the New Economy, and we will address directly the development of a rural tech economy in that document. However, it should be noted that amongst the largest consumers of high tech advances and services in BC are rural based resource industries. We will invest in and partner with these resource industries to make sure they are utilizing the most updated technology to ensure their ongoing competitiveness.

Rural Infrastructure Investments

One of the most vital services in many rural areas is a safe, efficient transportation system. Expanding road networks, and upgrading existing routes must remain a high priority to develop rural BC.

We will commit $100 million over four years in new money to upgrade rural routes to make our roads and highways safer and more efficient.

Site C

A BC Liberal Party will complete the construction of Site C.

Site C will provide BC with sustainable, renewable electricity for generations. With our growing technology centres and the increase in the use of electric vehicles, we need to make the necessary investments in BC Hydro to be able to provide clean, green energy for our future generations.

The completion of Site C will also create thousands of jobs in the Peace River, and we cannot abandon the project halfway to completion.

International Trade Opportunities

The Prince Rupert International Port is the closest North American port to Asia. Goods leaving Prince Rupert for Asia will arrive days earlier than products leaving from Seattle or Los Angeles. We need to take advantage of this comparative advantage – and build, manufacture or grow products – – especially agricultural products – – and put them on a ship to Asia, where there are millions of people wanting fresh, healthy products from British Columbia.

In particular, the recent implementation of the Canada Korea Free Trade Agreement removes virtually all tariff and non-tariff barriers to exporting BC agricultural and aquacultural products to Korea. Korea is also an excellent entry point for BC products being sold into other parts of Asia.

Trade expansion to our west with several Pacific nations is generating vast opportunity to produce fresh and processed food for sale in those markets. We will bring together university researchers, private capital, logistic providers, entrepreneurs, and government’s trade expertise to maximize the potential for BC’s highly varied and increasingly high-value food sector to take advantage of the growing middle-class consumer trans-Pacific marketplace.

Indigenous Economy

A critical component of rural economic development is the Indigenous economy, if the Indigenous economies thrive, the rural economic economies will thrive. With strengthened resources being directed at Indigenous communities to address water, waste water, transportation, health and education infrastructure needs, the general economic and social well-being of rural economies will be enhanced.

We need to work in partnership with the Federal Government to ensure these infrastructure needs are addressed in an expedited manner.

Party Policy Forums

We need to ensure that rural communities have more voice in the development of the policies of the BC Liberal Party.

We will ensure that the BC Liberal Party holds regional policy conferences to develop broad consensus around public policies which will be reflected in the Party’s platform. We will begin organizing such regionally based policy conferences immediately following the leadership selection to ensure that rural communities continue to have a strong voice in the development of BC Liberal Party policies.