Clark: Summer doesn’t ease government’s workload

With another Okanagan summer upon us, politics and government are probably the last things on people’s minds.

But the work of government goes on, even if sometimes I wish I was on the water instead.

Just like any growing community, transportation is a key issue on the Westside—and residents can look forward to a major enhancement of transit service with the arrival of RapidBus at the end of August. With an investment of $23.9 million from the provincial government these fast, comfortable buses will serve two new transit exchanges at Westbank Centre and Boucherie Mountain, and two new stations along Highway 97. Whether it’s for work, play, or school, commuting across the water will soon be a lot easier.

Speaking of Westbank Centre, work continues to make the downtown core even more inviting for residents, visitors and investment. Recent improvements on Brown Road, delivered in part by B.C.’s Gas Tax Fund, will help make downtown West Kelowna a destination for shoppers and tourists, and an asset to the local economy. This is also a great example of how the municipal, B.C. and federal governments can partner to meet the community’s needs.

Speaking of meeting needs, for years the Westbank Lions Club served as a community hub for countless events, fundraisers, and meetings. When it burned down, it left a real hole in the community—one it couldn’t afford to properly fill right away.

That’s why I’m very pleased the provincial government is contributing $34,000 toward the fundraising effort for a new Lions Hall. Because we made the tough decisions necessary to balance the budget for the second consecutive year, we are now in a position to make strategic investments in projects that affect people’s everyday lives. I am confident that Westside residents and others will now step up to push the Lions Club across the finish line.

Some investments replace lost cornerstones—and others aim to build new ones. Okanagan College is already playing a vital role in our new Skills for Jobs Blueprint, by training young people for high-demand jobs. But in a growing region of a growing province, demand for post-secondary education and skills training close to home is only going to go up.

That’s why we recently invested $28-million in new trades training facilities at the Kelowna campus, on track for completion in 2016—the latest of many capital investments at both Okanagan College and UBCO.

We’re also focused on ensuring you have access to some of the best health care in the world—investing $367-million in the Kelowna-based Interior Heart and Surgical Centre and $254-million to expand Kelowna General Hospital.

Kelowna and the Central Okanagan will keep growing for two reasons. First, it’s a region that believes in and embraces free enterprise. And second—well, just look around you. We’re blessed to call such a beautiful place home—especially in the summer.

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