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Ghost of hospital expansion haunts premier after modular home plant tour

Electrician John Shaw talks to B.C. Premier Christy Clark on Wednesday during a tour of Britco Structures in Penticton.
May 01, 2013 - 2:11 PM

Premier Christy Clark was grilled about Penticton Regional Hospital's long-awaited expansion on Wednesday during a tour of a modular home plant in Penticton.

Before she addressed reporters the Liberal premier said it's her party British Columbians want for a strong economy. She and Penticton Liberal candidate Dan Ashton toured Britco Structures and spoke with staff and supporters. Clark joked her orange safety vest was not her colour.

After the tour the premier said the Liberals will keep taxes low so companies like Britco can benefit and provide jobs. The business employs 500 people in B.C. and has operations in several countries.

The NDP will do the opposite Clark said. They'll raise corporate taxes, spend more and drive away business. In contrast a strong Liberal government will control government spending. She said Ashton's mayoral leadership of Penticton is an example of how this is done.

Before Ashton was mayor, "taxes were high and spending was out of control," she said. "But Dan knew raising taxes was not the right thing to do. It would not grow the economy. Dan Ashton broke the trap."

As for the hospital's new patient care tower it's coming along she said.

"I told (government) the redevelopment needs to happen. We've got the business case for the redevelopment started. We need to get shovels into the ground as fast as we can."

Clark visited the hospital on March 20. She had said the government had "notionally" found cash for the expansion. She was asked on Wednesday what she meant.

"What it means is we (can't start) a project until we have money set aside in the 10-year capital plan. We don't know the exact amount the hospital is going to cost yet. Because we haven't done the business case. Once the business case starts that's when the clock starts ticking."

She said the business case can take a few months to a year to complete. She also scoffed at the idea that an NDP government would support a patient care tower. She said the NDP in Victoria said they would stop all capital projects.

"When they come to Penticton they say they want to keep them all going," she said. "I'm having a very difficult time keeping track of the NDP's position on anything."

She defended herself and her party when asked why the Liberals care about the hospital. One reporter said that wasn't the case before.

"I've only been premier for two years. I've got to it as quickly as I could."

Earlier one of her Liberal candidates, a long-time law enforcement official, said photo radar worked in the past. She acknowledges her candidate's experience but said there will be no photo radar in B.C., calling it a tax grab.

Penticton city council raised the issue of photo radar earlier this year. A few councillors wanted to send a letter to the provincial government about it. If photo radar was allowed it could be used to slow drivers speeding in school zones.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at, call or text 250-488-3065 or send a tweet to @shannonquesnel1.


B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the Liberals support corporate tax breaks to a crowd of Britco Structure employees in Penticton on Wednesday.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the Liberals support corporate tax breaks to a crowd of Britco Structure employees in Penticton on Wednesday.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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