B.C. election: NDP pledges to fund SkyTrain to Langley; Liberals vow to end small business tax

The geography and politics of big-money election promises

BC NDP leader John Horgan says if he is re-elected on Oct. 24, he will build and pay for the SkyTrain extension from Surrey to Langley, though the plan on how to cover the $1.5-billion cost is still in the works.

As the 2020 provincial election campaign passes its halfway point, Horgan told an event in Langley on Thursday that will ask the federal government for funding, but did not explain who would cover the cash that municipalities would have contributed.

“I will work with the federal government, as I have been doing for the last number of years, to make sure we get our fair share of the dollars we send to Ottawa coming back here to build the communities we want to live in,” Horgan said.

The initial SkyTrain extensions in Surrey and along Vancouver’s Broadway corridor were funded 40 per cent by Ottawa, 40 per cent by Victoria and 20 per cent by municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

The funding was originally earmarked for light-rail transit. But after Doug McCallum was elected to be Surrey’s mayor in 2018 on a platform that included cancelling the light-rail project, the regional mayors’ council on transportation would later eventually switch to SkyTrain.

Read more:
TransLink to move forward with Surrey SkyTrain extension, but getting to Langley remains in limbo

TransLink has already received $1.6 billion to extend Skytrain service from Surrey’s King George Station to the Fleetwood neighbourhood.

The BC NDP said the project will become a provincial capital one to get it completed as quickly as possible.

“Investing in public transit and roads is a win-win-win. It cuts gridlock and commutes times, it reduces carbon pollution, and it creates good jobs,” Horgan said.

“Our plan will get people moving faster and more affordably while we get through the pandemic and build an economic recovery for everyone.”

Read more:
Surrey to pay TransLink $39M in land, cash for switching Langley expansion to SkyTrain

Elsewhere, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson announced on Thursday the elimination of a two-per-cent small business income tax if his party forms government.

A similar tax was abolished in Manitoba a decade ago, he told an event in Delta.

“Small businesses are struggling. Many of them have closed their doors already. Major hotels are closely completely putting thousands of British Columbians out of work,” he said.

According to his party, small businesses make up 98 per cent of all businesses in B.C. and employ more than one million people.

Wilkinson also promised to create a loan-guarantee program for the province’s more than 19,000 tourism and hospitality companies to help them pay fixed costs, given a downturn in business because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have heard from far too many tourism operators they may not survive the year — they may be bankrupt by Christmas,” Wilkinson said.

On Vancouver Island, BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau was set to campaign Thursday afternoon in Shawnigan Lake and make an announcement on renewable resources.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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