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For Immediate Release


Feb. 11, 2003

Office of the Premier



Fourth Session of the 37th Parliament of British Columbia


Today’s speech from the throne details the government’s vision to open up British Columbia to the world, and open up every region and community of the province to a wealth of new opportunities. Highlights include:


A new B.C. Heartlands Economic Strategy


·        The new B.C. Heartlands Economic Strategy includes economic development plans to be implemented across the province, incorporating plans for infrastructure, human capital and marketing. The strategy will open up new partnerships with First Nations; new investments in transportation infrastructure; new opportunities for tourism, sport and recreation from a successful Olympics bid; and a revitalized forest industry.

  • A new B.C. resort task force will be established to work with B.C.’s four-season resort communities and First Nations to ensure the province’s resort potential is fully realized and fully recognized around the world.
  • New legislation will support opportunities for job creation in coalbed methane in the Kootenays, in the central Interior and on Vancouver Island.
  • By 2010, the government wants to have an environmentally sound offshore oil and gas industry up and running, booming with job creation.
  • By 2010, the government wants to see B.C.’s tourism industry more than double in size.


A new partnership with First Nations


  • A statement of respect and reconciliation has been made by the provincial government recognizing the injustices of the past.
  • Starting this year, funding will be earmarked in the budget for revenue-sharing arrangements with First Nations that wish to help revitalize the forest industry in their traditional territories.
  • The three-year, $30-million Economic Measures Fund to help First Nations pursue new economic opportunities will be extended another year.
  • Funding has been approved to support aboriginal involvement in oil and gas, tourism, forestry, aquaculture and the Olympic bid.
  • The government is working to expand First Nations’ involvement in the co-management of parks and recreational services.

Opening up B.C.’s transportation infrastructure


·        The government is completing a comprehensive transportation plan to revitalize the province’s transportation infrastructure, to create new economic opportunities.

·        The government will open up the North with major improvements to rural roads and new access to gas and oil fields, and complete the Nisga’a Highway.

·        An integrated rail network will improve service and ensure public ownership of the BC Rail lines, beds and rights-of-way.

·        Infrastructure priorities include improving the Kicking Horse Canyon to open up the Kootenays and the Columbia Valley to the rest of Canada and all of B.C.

·        Vancouver Island and coastal B.C. will be opened up with greater choice, more competition and better service through the new BC Ferries Services.

·        The government will ensure B.C.’s airports become the regional social and economic engines they should be.


Opening up a revitalized forestry industry


·        Legislation this session will create a working forest land base for forest companies, forest workers and communities throughout the heartlands of British Columbia.

  • The government will pass forest reforms to diversify tenure and move towards market-based stumpage that is regionally sensitive and socially responsible. These measures will ensure that British Columbians get top value for every log harvested.
  • More timber will be available for innovative, smaller, local operators through the B.C. timber sales program, and also for First Nations.
  • Fair compensation will be assured for existing tenure holders that recognizes both the benefits and costs of reform.


Opening up economic opportunities for all


  • Changes to the Small Business Venture Capital Act will increase access to seed capital, eliminate red tape and provide funding opportunities for all regions of the province.
  • Amendments will be tabled to the Coal Act, the Mineral Tenure Act, the Mines Act and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act to streamline administration and stimulate investment.
  • New legislative measures will open up ICBC, BC Ferries and BC Hydro to independent regulatory oversight that better protects ratepayers, free of political interference.

·        Legislation will be introduced to open up fair and transparent government procurement practices, modernize the Waste Management Act, improve contaminated sites regulation, streamline and strengthen the Pesticide Control Act, and enhance planning for agriculture and the right to farming.


New measures to renew education, health care and services for people in need


  • A new, $7.5-million B.C. regional innovation chairs program will be established at B.C.’s colleges, providing new resources for applied economic and social research.

·        The Teaching Profession Act will be amended to enhance accountability and administrative efficiency, while clarifying the role of the B.C. College of Teachers.

·        A new Fair PharmaCare Plan will be introduced later this month. Some 280,000 low-income families will pay less than they do now, and for the first time, young families with lower incomes will be supported in their drug costs. The vast majority of B.C. families will pay the same as or less than they do today for their prescription drugs.

  • A new strategy for chronic disease management will be launched later this year.
  • New measures will strengthen the B.C. Ambulance Service.

·        A new provincial authority called Community Living BC will oversee the design and delivery of services to people with developmental disabilities.

·        Earnings exemptions for those with disabilities will rise again in the next fiscal year.


New measures to open up our democratic institutions


  • A dialogue on crime will bring together community leaders, MLAs, law enforcement experts and others in pursuit of better ways to prevent and combat crime in B.C.’s schools and on its streets. Meanwhile, a new high-tech computer-based system will be available to police across the province to help them manage and track information on criminals, suspects and sentencing conditions imposed by the courts to enhance public safety.
  • A seniors and youth congress will be organized to examine the challenges facing the province from the perspectives of both the younger generation and seniors.
  • Additional resources will be committed to foster informed public debate of the facts and choices at hand, and understanding of the opportunities and solutions the government is pursuing in the public interest.


The new Canada-British Columbia partnership


·        The province is working in partnership with the federal government on the 2010 Olympic bid, the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre expansion, the Gulf Islands National Park, the softwood lumber dispute, the pine beetle infestation and cross-border projects.

·        The province is pursuing funding to open up Canada’s gateway to British Columbia through the Kicking Horse Canyon on the Trans-Canada Highway, among other transportation priorities.

·        Both levels of government are working to harmonize environmental assessment policies and to improve fisheries management.

·        This year the province hopes to enter into a multi-year national agriculture policy to improve food safety, quality and environmental sustainability.

·        The province is exploring the potential for a new national park in the Okanagan, as well as new marine parks to protect some of B.C.’s most valuable marine ecosystems.




The full text of the speech from the throne is online at .



Visit the province's Web site at for online information and services.