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$13.7 billion allotted for infrastructure in 2017 BC budget

$13.7 billion allotted for infrastructure in 2017 BC budget

The provincial government of British Columbia announced several key areas of infrastructure investment as Finance Minister Mike de Jong stood in the B.C. Legislature on Feb. 21 and delivered his 2017 budget.

Chief amongst the announced spending is $13.7 billion for infrastructure projects spanning the province. Transportation infrastructure will see $4.7 billion in investment, including projects such as four-laning 6.3 kilometres of Highway 1 to the west of Salmon Arm, a new interchange on Highway 1 at the intersection of Admirals Road and McKenzie Ave in Victoria, an interchange on Highway 1 at 216th St. in Langley as well as the six-laning of the highway between 202nd St. and the new interchange.

Nearly 33 per cent of infrastructure funding will go towards transportation, with 18.9 per cent going to post-secondary institutions, 14.6 per cent towards education, 19.7 per cent towards health and 13.9 per cent towards other infrastructure needs, including BC Housing. Approximately $65 million will fund 380 housing units in support of the homeless as a priority housing initiative.

The government announced $2.6 billion will go towards educational infrastructure, including a new Sustainable Energy and Environmental Engineering Building at the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University, an Industrial Training and Technology Centre at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and a new Heavy Duty Mechanics building at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George.

Several trades facilities are also slotted for renovation and replacement, including the Terrace campus of Northwest Community College, Selkirk College in Nelson and North Island College's Campbell River Campus trades facility. A new trades training facility is also planned for the Vernon campus of Okanagan College.

Health capital projects will receive $2.7 billion in funding, including new patient care towers at both Penticton Regional Hospital and the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

The B.C. government is forecasting modest surpluses for the next three years and projects real GDP growth to be 2.3 per cent in 2017, 2.2 per cent in 2018 and an average of 2.1 per cent over the 2019-21 period.

"Budget 2017 represents this government's fifth consecutive balanced budget, showing the benefits of a fiscal plan that includes steady, solid growth and managed spending. There's additional funding for the programs people rely upon and almost $1 billion left in the pockets of British Columbians to let them make the choices that are important to them," de Jong said.