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B.C. abandons plan to privatize Coquihalla

VICTORIA, B.C. -- The B.C. Liberals have pulled the plug on a plan to privatize the Coquihalla Hwy., much to the de...

VICTORIA, B.C. — The B.C. Liberals have pulled the plug on a plan to privatize the Coquihalla Hwy., much to the delight of the province’s truckers.

The surprising announcement came yesterday when Premier Gordon Campbell announced that public opposition to the plan outweighed the possible business advantages of leasing the operation and maintenance of the highway to a private company for a term 55 years.

“There are times, I think, when you have to take a second look,” Campbell told local media. “I’ve listened to our MLAs who listened to the public. We’ve taken their advice. We will not be proceeding with the lease of the Coquihalla.”

That was music to the ears of B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) president, Paul Landry.

“We’re delighted the provincial government has changed its mind regarding privatization of the Coquihalla,” said Landry. “We’ve had concerns for some time now…It appears as though they’ve listened to the people of the province and withdrawn the proposal.”

The Coquihalla is the province’s only toll highway, which links Kamloops and the Okanagan with the Lower Mainland. There was strong opposition to the plan ever since the B.C. Liberals announced its intentions to privatize operation of the highway.

“We have listened to local residents and our caucus members,” Campbell said. “When I was in Clearwater, I said we would give this a second look and see if we could shape this to meet the public’s concerns. We engaged the public, our MLAs heard their response, and we are following their advice to maintain the status quo. The current tolls will remain and will not be increased, and the Coquihalla won’t be leased to a private operator.”

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