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VIDEO: B.C. Premier David Eby speaks at inaugural Fraser Valley Economic Summit

Eby discusses on transit, agriculture, industrial land use and upcoming election at Abbotsford event

The first-ever Fraser Valley Economic Summit landed a big name for its inaugural event when B.C. Premier David Eby took to the stage for a special address to attendees on Tuesday (May 21).

The FVES, held at UFV’s Evered Hall, brought together business, community and government leaders to look ahead into the future for the region and also celebrate significant success stories.

Eby led the event’s government address acknowledging the bet he lost to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith over the result of the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers series. He admitted that you might see him wearing an Oilers jersey in the future.

He added that he realizes affordability in the province is challenging and he believes that the NDP government is most capable to tackle that problem.

“The focus, of course, is on supporting people with the costs of daily life addressing issues related to housing, safe communities and strong public services,” he said. “The debate that we’re having in the legislature is an important one for you to know. It’s a debate about what do we do in this moment in time, where we see rising inflation, high central bank interest rates that are directed out and intended to reduce economic activity and have a financial impact on families.”

Eby said comments from the two major opposition parties are that the dramatic reduction of provincial government expenditures is necessary to move forward. But he stated that his party believes that more government support is needed.

“So the debate is a debate around the budget – what do we do right now,” he said. “Do we dial back expenditures, whether those are capital expenditures, schools, hospitals, roads, transit, stuff like that – or services, teachers, nurses, doctors, and other public sector workers that people depend on? Our decision is that now is the time we need more support.”

He said that reducing government spending would lead to cancelled projects and less key infrastructure investments. Eby said that it’s not just government spending, but the elimination of the employer health tax for businesses under $100 million and medical services plans premiums that will help businesses out.

Eby was then joined on stage by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Alex Mitchell for additional questions. She asked Eby about Highway 1 and the connectivity of transit in the region.

“For the Fraser Valley and south of the Fraser, the work on transit is considerable,” he said. “We have the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain, we have an additional $300 million for BC Transit to expand connections and also the expansion of Highway 1.”

He stated that Highway 1 expansion will improve transit because there will be bus on shoulder availability and that people will be able to move more efficiently. He admitted that the 2021 flood set things back a bit, but the resources have already been dedicated. He added that it can be a juggling act to get these types of big projects done, as they can either go ahead with them or wait for federal funding – which may or may not come and if it does it may take time.

Eby was asked about industrial land shortages and said that his government’s focus has been agri/industrial zones where they work with local government to identify specific areas where processing uses at an industrial scale can be permitted. He stated that he doesn’t want to see farmers priced out of the Fraser Valley and that the region’s food production is very important.

RELATED: B.C. provincial government announces $25 million contribution to Abbotsford milk production plant

He closed by speaking about the Fraser Valley’s importance to the province and also to not rely on old infrastructure and ideas.

“We need to make sure that we’re getting things done out here in a way that is responsible and structured but also effective, to make sure that we take advantage of this moment that we’re in,” he said.

RELATED: Premier David Eby to speak at Fraser Valley Economic Summit in Abbotsford

Ben Lypka

About the Author: Ben Lypka

I joined the Abbotsford News in 2015.
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