B.C. Premier John Horgan with Carole James, deputy premier and finance minister, fielded questions from the media concerning affordable housing, wildfires, speculation real estate tax, Nanaimo’s Discontent City and other issues during a brief press conference Wednesday morning at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

B.C. Premier John Horgan with Carole James, deputy premier and finance minister, fielded questions from the media concerning affordable housing, wildfires, speculation real estate tax, Nanaimo’s Discontent City and other issues during a brief press conference Wednesday morning at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Premier and prime minister talk about competing priorities

Wildfires and other subjects discussed during meeting between Horgan and Trudeau in Nanaimo

A meeting between the prime minister and the B.C. premier focused on issues that the two levels of government can try to work on together over the short- and long-term.

Earlier this morning, Premier John Horgan spoke to reporters at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, the site of a two-day federal cabinet ministers’ retreat. The premier shared some insight around the conversations he had with Justin Trudeau, whom he had met with yesterday evening in Nanaimo.

“We had an opportunity to talk about a range of issues,” Horgan said, adding that those issues ranged from wildfires, infrastructure and immigration strategy and the need for labour market workers.

“We have a skills shortage not just in B.C. but across the country,” Horgan said, adding that there is growing inequality across Canada.

Horgan did not say whether there had been discussions surrounding Discontent City or affordable housing with Trudeau. He said he hadn’t been to tent city, but said there are serious affordability and housing issues within the province.

“We have a housing crisis, an affordability crisis in British Columbia,” he said. “One of the primary focuses of Minister James’s first full budget in February was a 30-point plan on housing, which involved developing modular housing plan with cities.”

Horgan said it was unfortunate that politicians in Nanaimo couldn’t get on board with the province’s plan, making note that city councillors turned down $7 million in funding for a modular home site earlier this year.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to get co-operation from the City of Nanaimo on taking us up on our offer of putting in place moduler housing for the hard to home,” he said. “With those units would come the services that people would need if they have mental health or addictions challenges, if they need work or help with resumé creation or access to the job market, so we are doing that in other cities around British Columbia as part of our modular housing plan.”

Horgan said he is “hopeful” the government can implement its plan in Nanaimo someday.

The premier also said with on the ongoing wildfire situation and other issues within the province, addressing the challenges of housing and affordability becomes even tougher.

“These are vexing challenges that I think … are all the more challenging when you consider the other issues that are facing us here at the moment,” he said.

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When it came to the Trans Mountain pipeline, Horgan said the conversations with Trudeau were not “negotiations” but “acknowledgements” of differing viewpoints.

“We didn’t engage in that type of discussion today; that’s not to say we won’t in the future,” he said.

Following Horgan’s press conference, protesters gathered outside of the conference centre where they criticized Trudeau’s handling of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Nanaimo MP Sheila Malcolmson told reporters her party isn’t upset with Alberta, but with Trudeau for breaking promises.

“Promises have been broken on pipelines and people have not been heard,” she said.



nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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