B.C. Premier John Horgan set the agenda for his government’s spring session Tuesday with a throne speech packed with promises to hold down ferry and electricity costs, while promising legislation to regulate event ticket sales and payday lenders.
Canada’s high cellphone bills are another priority for the province, according to the speech read in the B.C. legislature by Lt. Gov. Janet Austin. But don’t expect relief right away; changes this year include improving “billing transparency” and doing another of the NDP government’s familiar consultation rounds, while federal law controls much of the wireless industry.
“Your government will give consumers the tools they need to get the least expensive possible service and encourage the federal government to deliver more affordable cellphone options for people,” the speech says.
New rules are on the way for live event ticket sellers, including a ban on mass ticket-buying software. Payday lenders will see a new cap on the fees they can charge.
The latest review of money laundering and its effect on real estate is to be completed, with recommendations the speech says “will provide a basis for immediate action to close loopholes and defend against criminal activity.”
Other goals for 2019 include establishing new Class A provincial parks and creating a Chinese-Canadian museum, along with an upgrade of the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria. Land purchased on Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, the Okanagan and Kootenays is to be given the province’s highest park protection.
A freeze on B.C. Ferries fare increases for major routes and discounts on minor and northern routes are to continue for a second year.
The speech promises to carry on with rental market changes recommended late last year by an MLA task force. This could include legislation to prevent strata councils from banning rentals. Action is also promised to speed up new rental housing projects and deliver “more efficient and effective project approvals.”
In industrial development, the speech promises legislative action to advance the LNG Canada project. Before that massive project can begin operation, a dispute with dissident hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northwest B.C. on the key natural gas pipeline route has to be resolved, and the province must remove the liquefied natural gas income tax put in place by the previous B.C. Liberal government.
Mining is also promised help, including “more support for innovation in mining and mineral exploration, and promoting Indigenous partnerships.”