B.C. budget bites into green programs
Whatever credibility this government thought it had as a result of its carbon tax and its program to expand “run of the river” power projects has now been completely lost. The impact on Translink is important to us regionally, as the current provincial sales tax on parking fees provides $15m each year for the agency – and they were expecting to be able to increase that significantly. The Live Smart program has already been cancelled – because it was “too popular” – and now HST is going to be applied to all appliances and retrofits that consumers could have used to reduce their energy consumption.
Actually the credibility is strained far beyond the environment since many people now think that the Liberals knew – or ought to have known – that their claims to be able to hold a budget deficit to around $500m were being undermined by much poorer economic performance than they had assumed
“I think that the environment is off the table,” Green Party of B.C. Leader Jane Sterk said. “It’s not unusual when the economy goes down.”
Sterk also took the opportunity to point out that her party had predicted a $1.5-billion deficit in February, much closer than the B.C. Liberals’ $5-million prediction.
“Wonder why it is that the Green Party is able to see something that a minister, with all of his staff, was not able to see.
The waffling last night on the tv news from both Campbell and Hansen was I though quite unconvincing – but equally they hve no real need to worry since, as Ian Hanomansing pointed out, they have more than three years to ride this one out. They clearly think that by the time they get to the polls again, the economy will have turned around.
$15m may not seem a lot of money when compared to the overall size of Translink’s budget, but once again they are threatening service cuts and fewer buses on the road. Whether or not that particular sum is found from other sources, those will be happening anyway as there is simply not enough money in the system now to keep it going at its present level, and legislation already caps the existing funding sources at levels below those envisaged by the transit plan – whether that is the region’s or the province’s. One third of this region’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and arguments about whether or not the seldom used Burrard Thermal generating station is decommissioned or not really are beside the point. The current direction is to expand freeways and the port. Add to that the strong probability of energy from burning garbage – as it cannot now be shipped to the south either – and the claims that the government likes to make about being green are hollow. Indeed, in its recent response to the BC Utilities Commission, the government finally admitted that the real intention of its private sector power expansion is simply for export. We do not actually need this new power at all.