Nelson, BC – MLA Michelle Mungall did not hide her frustration with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development during question period Monday. Mungall was asking why the Liberal government has committed one million dollars to a town with no residents, instead of investing in the healthcare and education priorities of Kootenay communities.
“The government found $1 million for this fake municipality without a single resident, said Mungall referring to Jumbo. She then listed Kootenay priorities she has raised in the Legislature that the Liberals have ignored. “The government said that they could not afford $1 million to help victims of the Johnson’s Landing mudslide with a buyout program similar to the one offered to North Vancouver residents in 2005. They also said that they have no money to run the CT scanner at Kootenay Lake Hospital 24/7 or literacy programs in the region or for Trafalgar School and Selkirk College.”
Mungall’s concerns about the Liberal’s priorities were echoed by fellow Kootenay MLA Norm Macdonald. Neither had their concerns addressed by Minister Cora Lee Oakes who appeared to be laughing about Mungall and MacDonald’s questions as she responded.
“This government has time and again ignored requests from our region to increase investment in education and healthcare, instead they invest in a fake municipality,” says Mungall. “I will continue to stand up for the real priorities of the Kootenays.”
The question period exchange can be viewed here.JUMBO GLACIER RESORT MUNICIPALITY N. Macdonald: Jumbo resort municipality is a 6,000-hectare wilderness with no people and not one building. The mayor and council have already spent $250,000 of taxpayers’ money, and they have accomplished nothing. And it’s not surprising, since there is no investor, and there has not been an investor for the past decade. The question is…. We now see that the fake municipality is being potentially funded by taxpayers to the tune of a million dollars over the next five years. We’re asking for money for dialysis in my area. We’re asking for money so that the TransCanada has a highway rescue vehicle. Does the minister not see the absurdity of then giving $1.25 million for a mayor and council of a town with no people, no building and no investors? Hon. C. Oakes: Our government believes that 20 years is long enough and that this project should be going forward, because this side of the House believes in growing the economy. And let me tell you about what this economic piece…. The plan: a $450 million resort will ultimately include 5,500-bed units, and a 104-hectare resort base area. It will provide approximately 3,750 person-years of construction employment and create 750 to 800 permanent, full-time jobs. We believe in jobs. We believe in growing the economy. And this project is good for B.C. Madame Speaker: Columbia River–Revelstoke on a supplemental. N. Macdonald: I mean, like, wow. It blows you away, right? So you, at some point, need an investor before you get that outcome. I’m sure the minister knows that. All right. We have real needs. The minister intends to spend a million dollars over the next five years, having wasted $250,000. There are real needs for that money. We’ve asked for dialysis service. No, there’s no provincial money for that. We asked for an abattoir. No provincial money for that. We ask for a rescue truck so that people on the TransCanada who are injured can actually be saved. No money for that. But the minister still seriously says it’s a wise investment to spend a million dollars over the next five years for a mayor and council that has no people, no buildings, and no investor. How does that make sense at all? Hon. C. Oakes: Well, the citizens of British Columbia spoke up, and they said that we pay for these types of items that are so crucial, so important, for people by growing the economy. And let me stand correct. The member opposite was in estimates last week, where they know full well that the $200,000 that was provided, which we provide to all start-up municipalities or provide to infrastructure investment…. Every community of both sides can apply from local government to implement infrastructure pieces, start-up money for its infrastructure. The $200,000 that the member opposite was talking about is money that all local governments — can put their application for it forward. But let me ask the member opposite: when Whistler was formed, when Sun Peaks was formed…. These are good investments for the province of British Columbia. Tourism is important for the province of British Columbia. And we are committed to growing the economy of British Columbia. M. Mungall: No one in the Kootenays voted for a government to spend $1 million on a fake municipality without a single resident, without a single pub, without a hospital, without a school, without a house. There isn’t even a street there. If she would take the time to drive up there, she would know that. While this government and the minister seem to be very proud of this, found $1 million for this fake municipality without a single resident, they said that they could not afford $1 million to help victims of the Johnsons Landing mudslide with a buyout program similar to the one offered to North Vancouver residents in 2005. They also said that they have no money to run the CT scanner at Kootenay Lake Hospital 24/7 or literacy programs in the region or for Trafalgar School and Selkirk College. They have money for a fake municipality that is run by the Minister of Energy’s buddies, that is only invested by the Minister of Energy’s buddies… Madame Speaker: Pose your question. M. Mungall: …but they don’t have $1 million for real people in the Kootenays. To the minister for local government: how do you find $1 million for a fake municipality, but the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education can’t find a cent for the real projects that help real people in the Kootenays? Hon. C. Oakes: Again, I wish the members opposite would listen to the fact during estimates, of which you sat through, that $200,000 was provided for the start-up of the municipality. Small community grants are available to local governments to assist them in providing services and hiring qualified staff. Grants are based on a formula that factors in the base amount and other information. In 2013 Invermere received $280,402 through this, Radium Hot Springs received $182,758, and Quesnel Flats received $204,679. But the final thing: in 1975, by an NDP government, Whistler was formed in just the same way. Madame Speaker, we’re going to grow this economy. We’re going to provide jobs and make sure we can provide the services that are so important to British Columbians across the province of British Columbia.