BC Liberal Party leadership candidate, Todd Stone is committing to a comprehensive plan to ensure a strong future for rural BC families and communities.
“Resource industries such as forestry, mining, and oil and gas, have built our province and will continue to do so for generations to come,” said Stone. “Rural BC holds so much potential to drive BC’s future for families and communities, but key investments do need to be made.”
Stone’s commitments include supporting people and industry, encouraging innovation and technological transformation, and helping job creators get their goods to market both here at home and around the world.
As a former tech CEO who established one of the first technology companies in Kamloops, Stone is pledging to do more to help emerging industries set up and thrive in communities across the province.
Specific tactics include ensuring high speed internet access for all BC communities within two years and expanding cell coverage, particularly on major transportation routes.
“Technological innovation not only provides opportunities to diversify local economies and create jobs, but will also help our traditional resource sector innovate and thrive,” said Stone. “We’ve already seen great examples of this across the province and the potential for other communities is nearly unlimited.”
Other key elements of Stone’s rural commitments include a review of how taxpayers are charged for capital projects, such as new hospitals in different regions of the province to ensure fairness, doubling the BC Rural Dividend Fund, treating the forest industry as a priority sector for our economy, and expanding transportation access on key routes throughout rural BC to better connect communities and drive our economy.
“But first and foremost to all of these commitments is doing everything in my power to stand up against the NDP’s unfair and self-serving plans for a referendum on electoral reform,” said Stone. “John Horgan and the NDP have changed the rules to shut out the voice of rural BC in one of the most fundamental elements of our democracy, and I will not stand by and let them do it.”
Six Point Plan for Ensuring a Strong Future for Rural BC
First and foremost, we must stand up against the NDP’s unfair, self-serving referendum process, which will silence the voice of rural BC on having their say into how we elect our MLA’s.
1. Supporting our Resource and Energy Sectors
- Forestry, mining, oil, and gas built our province and will continue to do so for years to come.
- We need a plan to support these industries, encourage innovation, get resources to market.
- Complete Site C to provide future generations with sustainable, renewable power.
- Work with communities, First Nations, and industry get to ‘yes’ on LNG.
- Rural BC holds so much potential to drive BC’s future, but key investments need to be made.
- Forestry must be a priority sector for the economic future of our rural communities.
- Predictable/stable access to fibre supply, review of overall tax burden for the sector.
- Encouraging innovative value-added opportunities in BC communities.
- Working with Ottawa to stand up for BC workers in the softwood lumber dispute
- Diversify markets/types of products sold in Asia – China, India, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia.
- Do more to control/contain the Spruce Beetle infestation.
3. Rural Transportation Infrastructure Investments
- Expanding and upgrading key road networks, rural side roads, and bridges
- Continued investments in local and regional airports
- Better leverage Port of Prince Rupert – especially for Northern BC agriculture products.
4. Enabling Rural Tech Success
- Do more to help tech companies succeed in rural communities.
- Ensure all communities are properly connected with high-speed internet within 2 years.
- All communities/major transportation corridors properly served with cell coverage.
5. Supporting Community Redevelopment Opportunities
- Double the BC Rural Dividend Fund to $50 million dollars per year.
- Provide incentives for community redevelopment opportunities on former industrial sites.
6. Taxpayer Fairness Across BC
- Review direct taxpayer costs on projects such as new hospitals to ensure provincial fairness.