Clark offers $30 million for rec facilities

Premier Christy Clark has used her first keynote address to municipal leaders to announce what she calls a "modest" $30 million fund for local recreation centres, playgrounds and trails.

Premier Christy Clark makes her first speech to the UBCM convention in Vancouver.

VANCOUVER – Premier Christy Clark has used her first keynote address to municipal leaders to announce what she called a “modest” $30 million fund for local recreation facilities.

Eligible projects will include sports and fitness centres as well as trails, bike paths and playgrounds. Priority for the fund will be given to small communities, with applications accepted from Oct. 14 to Dec. 28 and selected projects announced by next March.

NDP MLA Carole James said after the speech the $30 million will be gone quickly, and her party has proposed $100 million for community recreation improvements.

Speaking to reporters after her speech, Clark also weighed in on the stalled negotiations with Ottawa over a new 20-year contract for RCMP services across the province.

Clark said B.C. negotiators have been clear that they want more say in how extra costs are dealt with in the years to come, and B.C. is considering setting up a provincial police force if a deal can’t be reached. The B.C. government is in the early stages of costing that proposal, but at this point a provincial force could be cheaper than the deal currently on offer from Ottawa, she said.

“We’re negotiating on behalf of municipal governments,” Clark said. “Municipal governments are telling us they don’t want to burden property taxpayers any more by the increased policing costs that would come from having a provincial police force, or from having the current deal that’s on the table with the RCMP.”

In her speech, Clark also detailed a program to extend cellular and high-speed internet service to remote communities, through a contract extension with Telus for government communications that was signed at the end of July.

New wireless services now cover the Pine Pass section of Hghway 97 near Tumbler Ridge, as well as near Lytton, parts of the Coquihalla Highway and Okanagan Connector and Highway 16 from Prince George to Terrace and Prince Rupert.

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