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BC United leader not worried about polls, willing to talk to B.C. Conservatives

Town hall meeting held in Tsawwassen on May 6
Delta South BC United MLA Ian Paton, left, alongside BC United leader Kevin Falcon at a Town Hall meeting held May 6 at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn. Phil Melnychuk Photo

BC United leader Kevin Falcon is willing to work with the B.C. Conservatives during the coming election if that party is willing to talk.

“I’ve consistently said that I’m absolutely open to working with the B.C. Conservatives or any group that wants to help get rid of the NDP, 100 percent,” Falcon said. “But it requires two willing partners to try and work together. There’s always a possibility.”

Falcon said it’s too late to create a formal merger of the parties in time for the Oct. 19 election.

He was in Tsawwassen for a pre-election town hall meeting May 6 at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn hosted by Delta South MLA Ian Paton seeking ideas from about 75 people.

According to a Research Co. poll in April, the BC Conservatives are in second place with 27 percent of decided voters supporting them, with BC United at 15 per cent (the NDP has the lead with 45 percent) but Falcon said he doesn’t worry about polls, citing low numbers for the B.C. Liberals, now BC United, just before the party won the 2013 election.

One questioner wanted to know if the BC United is planning for seniors who need care in assisted living or care at home.

“Would you say that would be on your radar?” the senior asked.

Falcon said the first thing to do is to learn how incentivize and support people so they can stay in their own homes as they age.

“It’s way cheaper,” he said. “That would save a fortune for government.”

He added he would, “take a chainsaw” to regulations to encourage foreign trained doctors and nurses to return to B.C.

As well, B.C. is the only jurisdiction in North America that will still not rehire unvaccinated health workers, who for a variety of reasons, didn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, he noted.

“I tell you, that ends five minutes after I become the premier of this province,” he said.

Falcon reviewed BC United’s housing policy consisting of four points: making public land available for long-term leases for non-market housing; eliminating the property transfer tax for first-time buyers; eliminating the PST on residential construction; and creating a rent-to-own plan in which the first few years of rental payments can be used to save for a downpayment for 15 percent of the units in a new development.

Last year, the federal government announced 100 percent rebates for GST on purpose built rental housing.

Falcon described the province’s legislation which allows three-plexes or four-plexes on single family lots as a “fiasco,” saying there won’t be enough infrastructure and the uptake by developers will be minimal.

“I call it the neighourhood destruction plan,” he said.

Instead, he favoured density around rapid transit.

He listed completion of several projects when he was transportation minister from 2004 to 2009 – the Canada Line and Evergreen SkyTrain lines were completed when he was minister, along with the new Port Mann Bridge, the Pitt River Bridge, South Fraser Perimeter Road, Sea to Sky Highway and Kicking Horse Canyon bridge.

“We got some big things done, controversial for sure, but we got them done,” Falcon said.

A bridge over the Fraser River could be open by now, he said, referring to the Fraser River Tunnel project which has yet to be started.

He said under the BC Liberals, the 10-lane bridge had a fixed $2.6-billion price from a contracting group, which then was rejected by the incoming NDP government.

The government also moved utility lines and preloaded soil in the construction site, to make the project, which would have had room for SkyTrain, more attractive to build.

Falcon said that not only did the government waste $100 million on work it had already done, “it’s the fact the bridge would have been open two summers ago,” he said.

“We would have been enjoying all the benefits of that bridge.”