Amongst the fallout of this week’s provincial budget. Chambers of commerce and the business community in general all glowingly endorsed Gary Collins budget document. But this was in stark counterpoint to social advocacy groups and ministries.
The budget also looks to have marked the end, or at least a cooling off period in the provincial government’s attempted courting of the “Heartlands”. The document included a mere pittance for the pine beetle epidemic, fire harvesting and offshore oil and gas.
But these items were far overshadowed by Olympic spending.
There is however another group that has come out squarely behind the government budgetary plans.
Shortly after the budget was released the British Columbia Construction Association put out a press release proclaiming, “Balanced Budget. Balanced Budget. Balanced Budget.”
They proclaimed the budget to be good news and suggested it be broadcast as “loudly as possible.”
They tout a balanced budget as a great boost of confidence and an invitation for private investment, which is all good for the industry. And indeed there is much in the budget for the industry to like: over a billion dollars for infrastructure, the expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert, $600 million for construction upgrading and equipment for existing health facilities, $400 million for school districts to build and upgrade schools and over $600 million in capital funding to post-secondary facilities.
And Mr. Collins didn’t stop there. He had more gems for the construction association, although they are of a definite Lower Mainland orientation: $600 million for the Sea-to-Sky highway, $51 million for Olympic venue construction and money for the seismic upgrading of schools.
It’s an impressive list and great cause for optimism in the immediate future of the construction industry in this province. Of course the upside is that the industry is one of the most labour intensive in the province and its prosperity will have spinoffs province-wide.
The association espouses the importance of a skilled work force, a prosperous economy, government fiscal responsibility and employment opportunities and the government has struck a chord with the budget.
However even the construction association seems to be taking a bit of a wait and see attitude and we join with them it in its statement, “Let’s hope they can continue to deliver.”