A referendum on new revenue sources for TransLink is among the pledges outlined in the B.C. Liberal platform released today (April 15).
“I believe we need to keep life affordable for British Columbians, and I believe that British Columbians and people in the Lower Mainland...should have the chance to decide how much transit they want to pay for,” Premier Christy Clark said of the proposal at a news conference at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.
The referendum on possible new revenue sources for transit improvements identified by the Metro Vancouver Mayor's Council and TransLink would be held in conjunction with the municipal elections in November 2014.
Clark told reporters the B.C. Liberal platform is about the party’s vision for a “debt-free British Columbia”.
“A B.C. free of debt is our destination, and our platform is our roadmap to get us there,” she said.
The platform includes pledges to freeze personal income tax rates for the duration of their mandate and freeze the carbon tax for five years, to dedicate at least 50 percent of future surplus revenues to debt reduction, and to dedicate all revenues from the liquefied natural gas sector to debt reduction until provincial debt is eliminated. If reelected, they say they will also lower the small business tax rate from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent by the 2017/2018 fiscal year.
The document also includes promises to press for new Coast Guard resources to be placed in Vancouver following the closure of the Kitsilano station, to invest $582 million to complete seismic upgrades for another 45 B.C. schools over the next three years, and to continue to limit postsecondary tuition-fee increases to a maximum of two percent throughout the next term.
On the subject of the B.C. film industry, the Liberals are vowing to call on other provinces “to work together on film incentives policies across Canada.”
The NDP promised last week to increase tax credits for film and television production on local labour costs, a proposal that the Liberals claim will cost $75 million.
The Liberals’ policy for the film industry also includes a plan to establish a B.C. Film office in Los Angeles to work with regional film commissions and encourage television and film production in Los Angeles.
“I’ve been told by the industry that there’s a few things that we can do short of $75 million additional tax credits that will help, one of which is the office and the person in Hollywood and the person in California,” Bill Bennett, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, told the Straight. “They really believe that Ontario has done a better job than B.C. in terms of a presence and talking to producers on a regular basis, making sure that producers know what we have to offer…And it’s not a huge cost, so we can do this in response to what the industry’s asked us to do, and accomplish I think one of the goals that the industry has set for us.”
In the area of childcare, the party is promising to create a province-wide child-care registry with information on the availability of spaces in communities, and to require local school boards to establish a policy promoting the use of school property between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays by licensed child-care providers.
The platform also includes plans to increase the number of hospice beds available in the province by 100 percent by 2020, create an additional 500 addictions spaces in the province by 2017, and provide $12 million over the next three years to expand the number of medical student spaces to 288 graduates a year.
Bennett, who co-chairs the B.C. Liberals' platform committee, noted there’s very little new money outlined in the proposal.
“But we think that’s what people want at this stage in the game,” he said.
The election campaign will officially launch Tuesday (April 16). B.C. voters will head to the polls on May 14.