Government ignores West Shore priorities

The fall sitting of the legislature begins this week. I’m looking forward to questioning this government for its lack of action on so many issues that are impacting our community.

The fall sitting of the legislature begins this week. I’m looking forward to questioning this government for its lack of action on so many issues that are impacting our community.

Now that Premier Christy Clark has finally confirmed she is not going to call an election until 2013, it’s time to really focus on the most urgent issues. 

The premier promised a jobs plan that would be “different from anything British Columbia has seen,” but it turns out her plan is no different at all.

We’ve seen most of this before under former premier Gordon Campbell. This plan puts self-promotion ahead of substance and is mostly an exercise in repackaging existing plans and programs.

The jobs plan lacks clear job targets, and fails to provide vital investments in people — our greatest resource. Sadly, there’s not much for businesses and residents of Esquimalt-Royal Roads, or any communities on Vancouver Island.

A new Belmont high school

Our list of needs for the West Shore is long, and it starts with a new Belmont high school, a necessity that has been crying out for attention for years — and has been ignored for years.

When my colleague John Horgan and I met with Education Minister George Abbott last spring, he assured us that a replacement school was a high priority.

We told the minister that our community cannot wait any longer for action.

A new Belmont high school is essential for our students to get the education they deserve.

Construction of a new school will create much-needed jobs in our community.

It would be a multi-million dollar project to really put families first, not just a slick marketing slogan that promises much and yet delivers little.

Child care must be a priority

Last month, the provincial government cut funding to child care centres already stretched to the limit.

Reduced funding to centres will mean higher child care fees, reduced staffing levels and increased operational costs.

It’s more evidence that child care is a low priority for this government.

Some parents are waiting years for affordable and quality child care, and that’s neither good for our economy or for the children.

Affordable and quality child care must be a top priority.

HST going, but not fast enough

The HST has been defeated, but we’re still paying it, and we will be for months to come.

The provincial government says it will take until early 2013 for the HST to be replaced with the PST-GST system. That’s way too long.

Families, businesses, homebuilders and all British Columbians should not have to endure another 18 months of uncertainty. I am urging the province to speed up the process.

There’s no good reason the old system cannot be re-instituted within a year. The public has spoken, and now government needs to get on with it.

Moving regional transportation forward

With the economy in neutral, and interest rates lower than they’ve been in 50 years, government should be moving forward with infrastructure projects that will create jobs and help inject dollars into our community.

The West Shore is growing and needs additional transportation capacity. Now is the time to get commuter rail in motion on the E&N corridor and work to reduce the number of vehicles on our roadways.

More can be done to make the overall system work better. Too often, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. A south Island transportation authority would help to coordinate planning and operations of our transportation network.

Much like Metro Vancouver’s Translink, it would be responsible for regional transit, cycling and commuting systems.

I am encouraging the province to establish such an authority for the south Island.

—Maurine Karagianis (NDP) is the MLA for Esquimalt-Royal Roads.


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