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Greater Victoria, BC News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
9/15/2015 Published Article
Greater Victoria - Key Contributor to Provincial Prosperity

We live in a large province with over 4.6 million people, yet we may overlook how key Greater Victoria is to B.C. As B.C.’s second largest metropolitan area with an estimated Gross Domestic Product of $15 billion, what affects our region also affects communities throughout the province.

For many years, The Chamber has been concerned about fragmentation in the Capital Region District. We feel that municipal services can be delivered in a more efficient and cost-effective way, which would help draw in foreign investment as well as attract and retain a skilled workforce. As it previously promised, we expect the B.C. government to commission and adequately resource an independent study on local governance within Greater Victoria to maximize efficiencies and encourage our region’s competitiveness.

BC Ferries has made considerable progress in measures such as rationalizing routes and adopting alternate fuels. Although its routes were slightly more profitable in 2015, the major routes still operate at a profit, while the minor and northern routes continue to operate at a loss. We believe this puts BC Ferries in an untenable position, leaving them little choice but to further increase fares. We look to the Province to increase the subsidy to northern and minor routes for the system to be sustainable and ferry travel to be affordable.

The Belleville International Terminal is a key international gateway, helping to link B.C. to external markets, with an estimated economic impact of $180 million a year. Last May, the B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure announced $17.4 million investment to Belleville Terminal, mostly relating to critical marine infrastructure improvements. The Chamber is pleased with this investment, but is concerned about the lack of information about upgrades to the terminal itself. We count on the B.C. government to secure the funds necessary to upgrade the common use terminal as befitting one of B.C.’s gateways and a key driver of the region’s economy.

An efficient transportation system is key to local economic prosperity as well as the island’s economy. With our 13 municipalities and the Capital Regional District - and highways running between and through some municipal areas - we need a regionalized approach to ensure the smooth flow of goods and services throughout the region. Last July, Canada’s Minister of State and Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North and B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure announced $85-million in federal-provincial funding to improve the McKenzie Avenue Interchange. We are pleased to see such commitment to transportation infrastructure. We look to the Province to lead long-term strategic transportation planning across all levels of government as well as secure long-term, stable funding for transportation infrastructure improvements to meet the needs of the Vancouver Island economy.

As the voice of Greater Victoria’s business community, we will continue our work with the Province on areas that affect our region, to help create the vibrant community we need and a capital city that British Columbians can continue to take pride in now and in the future.

By Bruce Carter, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce

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