Friday, January 31, 2020

Northwest Infrastructure the theme for MP Bachrach's first speech to the House of Commons

Northwest infrastructure concerns were the topic for Skeena-Bulkley Valley
MP Taylor Bachrach this week in the House of Commons

The work of the nation's Parliamentarians got underway this week as the House of Commons reopened for business following the extensive holiday period break.

As part of the first week of speechifying, it was a debut for Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach who took to the issue of how the government is tracking its infrastructure programs for his first major address.

The MP opened his speech with thanks to the electors of the riding for their trust in electing him to be their representative, as well the newly elected MP paid tribute to his family for their support on his journey.

He also delivered a travelogue for the members of the House, highlighting not only geography of the region but the people who live across the Northwest. He also spoke to the spirit of the Wet'suwet'en people and their respect of the land in his home area of the Bulkley Valley.

Turning to his theme of infrastructure, he called on some of his experience as Mayor of Smithers and some of his observations on the importance of delivering on infrastructure initiatives.

"Prior to this role, I had the opportunity to serve for eight years as the Mayor of the town of Smithers which was an honour and a joy. The motion we are now debating concerns infrastructure and my time as Mayor helped me appreciate how important infrastructure is to the quality of life Canadians enjoy. 

And that is why in general I support this government's focus on infrastructure investment. When it is done properly, investing in public infrastructure creates jobs, makes life in our  communities more enjoyable and helps to combat climate change"

The motion that the MP's are discussing is one which is looking to hold the Liberal government accountable for the spending that it has earmarked for infrastructure programs, with the Parliamentary Budget Office raising some red flags on the status of some 70 billion dollars that is yet to be accounted for.

Towards that theme Mr. Bachrach called for stronger oversight and an audit on the government's funding programs.

"This motion is calling for an audit of the government's 186 billion dollar infrastructure plan however and it is difficult to argue with the motion that seeks to help Canadians gain greater clarity on what  infrastructure funds are being spent on and whether the investments are achieving the government's stated goals.   

I must admit it was alarming to read that budget 2018 only accounted for 21 billion of a total 91 billion in infrastructure funding and that the Parliamentary Budget Officer found it difficult to fully account for the delivery of promised infrastructure funding.

The question I and many Canadians are still left wondering is where is the 70 billion dollars that is left un-accounted for"

The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP  also pointed towards a need for wider investments into Green initiatives to help address the many challenges that face the nation on environmental issues.

"When it comes to the climate crisis Madame Speaker, Canadians deserve more than window dressing, they deserve measurable actions that add up to deep reductions in climate pollution"

The MP also called for rural residents receive their fair share of the infrastructure funding, calling for rural communities to be included as part of the funding overview.

"As the representative of a riding where the largest municipality has a population of only 13,000 people I would like to see this audit include an analysis of whether there is an equitable balance between rural and urban infrastructure investments" 

Mr. Bachrach also outlined some themes he collected from around the Northwest, making some of the concerns that local officials had relayed to him .

"I recently met with Carol Leclerc, the Mayor of Terrace who told me about her city's pressing need to upgrade transportation infrastructure and accommodate growth from unprecedented industrial activity. 

I know that the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako is desperate to see improvements in high speed internet service for rural residents. 

Prince Rupert a city of only 12,000 residents has estimated it's infrastructure deficit at over $350 million dollars. 

Highway 16, the Highway of Tears, runs through our riding and still lacks adequate cel phone coverage along long stretches. 

On Haida Gwaii residents want to end their dependance on diesel power and  instead move rapidly toward renewable energy. 

Nearly every community in Northwest British Columbia has projects on the books to renew water and sewer lines, water treatment facilities and other core infrastructure. 

In my home community of Smithers, a recent asset management planning exercise found that 30 million dollars in water, sewer and storm sewer upgrades will be required in the next decade." 

The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP also made note of some of the findings from the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance which outlined through a study that some 1.3 billion dollars will be required in the Northwest to replace and renew critical infrastructure.

You can review Mr. Bachrach's full address to Parliament below:

You can follow the work of Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP from our House of Commons archive here.

As well, items of national and international scope that come from the House of Commons can be reviewed through our political blog D'arcy McGee where we host an archive of items of interest from the nations capital.

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