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Release: Business Council of BC White Paper and Nov.7 Summit focus attention on BC infrastructure needs and issues

VANCOUVER, BC (Nov. 5, 2014) - With the economic prosperity of British Columbia and Western Canada relying increasingly on global trade and our ability to deliver goods to foreign markets, the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) today released Building BC for the 21st Century: A White Paper on Infrastructure Policy and Financing in advance of its second annual BC Business Summit (Building BC for the 21st Century: Innovation in Infrastructure), to be held on Friday, Nov.7 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. 

The paper examines our existing infrastructure networks – including transport, utilities, telecommunications, hospitals and schools – and their essential role in connecting people, goods and information to improve our collective economic and social prosperity. British Columbia has built a solid infrastructure network, but changes in international trade flows, demographics, climate and technology will put pressure on existing infrastructure.  A long-term, strategic and integrated approach is necessary if we are to develop greater capacity in BC to build necessary infrastructure in an efficient and timely manner. 

"If we want to enhance BC’s competitive position, we cannot be complacent about infrastructure,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council. “Despite BC having made substantial investments in large public assets that have served the province and its citizens well, sustained investment in infrastructure is needed to keep BC competitive, grow our economy, enhance well‐being, and protect the environment. Just as importantly, we need to shift from processes that are hampered by individual interests and politicized approaches to governance and decision making, to one marked by timeliness, cooperation, and regional economic planning that aligns with provincial and national interests.” 

While the paper addresses public and private and social and economic infrastructure, as well as infrastructure across different levels of government, much of the document focuses on large economic infrastructure pertaining to transportation and transit, said Ken Peacock, Chief Economist at the Business Council. "This is an area that is especially important to prosperity and our future economic development," said Peacock. "It is also an area where the provincial government has a high degree of control in the planning and building of assets." 

Some of the paper’s recommendations include: developing a long-term strategic infrastructure planning process in the province; creating a provincial infrastructure fund administered by a stand-alone agency; expanding the use of user fees, which may include more widespread tolling in the lower mainland; exploring the potential to establish infrastructure corridors across the province, and increasing the use of green bonds to generate funds specifically dedicated to building projects that deliver environmental benefits. 

At the BC Business Summit on Nov.7th, the provincial government will be represented by Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. She joins a list of prominent speakers that includes: Honourable Jean Charest, Former Premier, Province of Quebec; Leo de Bever, Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo); and Peter Tertzakian, Chief Energy Economist and Managing Director, ARC Financial Corporation.

Joining them to explore a wide range of BC infrastructure issues will be TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis, Vancouver Airport Authority President and CEO Craig Richmond, Canadian National Railway Executive VP and COO Jim Vena, and BC Maritime Employers Association President and CEO Andy Smith. Jessica McDonald, BC Hydro President and CEO will also be addressing the Summit along with Director of Thought Leadership from the New York office of PwC, William K. Sands, and more than a dozen other national and international experts. Together they will address questions such as: How we can meet the future infrastructure needs of our communities and our economy? What global and domestic factors are impacting our infrastructure networks? And how are other jurisdictions meeting their infrastructure challenges? 

The Business Council of British Columbia, now in its 48th year as the premier business organization in British Columbia, is a non-partisan association made up of 250 leading companies, post-secondary institutions and organizations from across BC’s diverse economy, which collectively support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the province. The Council provides timely and exceptional public-policy research and advice on issues to enhance BC’s competiveness and prosperity.

For registration information or additional details about the BC Business Summit, visit www.bcbusinesssummit.com, call 604-684-3384 or email info@bcbc.com.

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Media Contact:
Greg Descantes
604-646-3564
greg@pacegroup.com