MERRITT, B.C. — Liberal MLA Dave Chutter recently visited the Merritt area to explain that the B.C. Liberals are out of road cash and have little choice but to put highways on the back burner.
Chutter says the feds will have to help fund highway improvements in the province.
"We face a challenge to meet the $10 billion need for highways infrastructure spending in this province and federal cost-sharing will be in strong demand for the next 10 years," warns Chutter. "This province pays a $9 million annual fuel tax bill to Ottawa and we get only $2 million back in infrastructure spending for transportation."
Some members of the audience chided Chutter about his government’s spending on the 2010 Vancouver Olympic bid while that money may be better spent on the province’s highways.
One local resident blasted "I find it ironic that it costs $10 billion to bring our highways up to standard so that our communities can continue to survive economically, and at the same time, we’re talking about spending big money on the Olympics so that we can stimulate the economies of Vancouver and Whistler."
Chutter admitted the Liberals policy on the Olympics may be creating a conflict in priorities.
"We, as a government, have to deal with that," he says.
Chutter was also on the hot seat regarding the possible privatization of the Coquihalla Hwy.
"All of the history of (the Coq. construction project) points to the fact, the tolls should have been removed long ago," said Kamloops mayor, Mel Rothenberger. "Nobody in the Kamloops-Nicola-Okanagan region is speaking in favor of privatizing the Coquihalla."
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