The candidates for the Liberal and Conservative parties proposed two very different plans to help boost the economy in the Northwest.
Liberal Brad Layton touted his party’s plan to invest in green infrastructure, a plan that would include three years of deficit spending.
“Within Telkwa, with the water tower, we are applying for grant funding. We can’t afford it with the amount of tax we get in, which is 90 per cent residential,” said Layton, who is also a Telkwa councillor.
“As well as our waste water, we’re coming up to some maintenance stuff which is all part of the infrastructure deficit.”
The Liberal candidate said the newly formed Resource Benefit Alliance, a group of Northwest municipalities including those from the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding, estimated the infrastructure deficit to be about $500 million. He added that the definition of “green” infrastructure was broad, and could include things like connecting more rural ares to highspeed internet.
“We’ve got the economic development where we may become a key player in the economy of Canada with LNG going through. Our communities aren’t ready for this kind of influx of workers and people moving to the area … without working on our infrastructure,” said Layton, who defended the deficit spending.
“Personally, I feel if nothing is done at the federal level down to the provincial level and on to the municipal level, the only way to deal with these things is going to be tax hikes at the municipal level. And as most people know, we’re maxed out at what people can afford to pay on taxes,” said Layton.
Conservative candidate Tyler Nesbitt said despite a technical recession for the first half of the year, growth in June meant voters should stick with the Conservative plan.
“We all know why we’re in this position when it comes to the global economy.
“You just read any financial papers, speak to any level-headed economist, you’re going to see the Chinese market has a big impact here; and of course the price of oil, the Bank of Canada said that’s going to make some winners and losers in the economy, but unequivocally that’s going to have a net negative effect,” said Nesbitt.
The Conservatives have proposed an enhanced mining tax credit to help the fledgling industry, particularly in remote areas like in the Northwest which would see a 25 per cent tax credit. The current 15 per cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit would be extended another three years.
“We have several projects on the docket here that could have a real good impact on jobs and our local economy … so if they’re 50 kilometres off a service road, then they’ll be eligible for [the 25 per cent credit],” said Nesbitt.