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MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“Welcome News for our Riding”


Ottawa is abuzz this week over the arrival of United States President Barack Obama.  Meanwhile, there’s a different kind of excitement here in Prince George-Peace River as a number of new projects generate hope for a boost in economic activity.


President Obama’s first foreign trip since his inauguration is a working visit with little pomp and ceremony.  The economy will be the primary focus of discussions between President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


Fortunately, in the days leading up to his Canadian visit, the President clearly indicated the significance and value he places upon trade between Canada and the United States.  This has allayed fears that U.S. protectionism will inflict further damage upon the economies of both our nations.


International trade disruptions would only blunt the benefit of economic development initiatives and new projects planned for our region in the coming weeks and months.  And while Ottawa prepared for Obama, my federal, provincial and municipal counterparts and I were busy this week helping to get some of these projects underway.


Senator Richard Neufeld and I joined Fort St. John Mayor Bruce Lantz on Thursday to announce (also on behalf of Peace River South MLA Minister Blair Lekstrom) a federal, provincial and city partnership that will invest $2.5-million towards upgrading the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.


The funding is part of the Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund, which specifically funds roads, bridges, water and sewer projects in smaller municipalities.  This is just one local project funded in the current round of the program.  More local announcements will follow soon.


And under Budget 2009, our Conservative Government has made an additional $500-million investment in the program to ensure further construction to stimulate local economies and to meet the infrastructure needs of BC’s smaller towns.


Later that day, Senator Neufeld and I were at the Child Development Centre in Fort St. John to celebrate a federal Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) grant of $47,200 to help build the new Life Skills Centre.


This project will provide after-school programming, a “Saturday Club” and peer mentoring opportunities for local children and youth with disabilities, aged 6-19. The Life Skills Centre was an ideal fit for the EAF program which supports community-based projects that improve accessibility, reduce barriers and enable Canadians, regardless of physical ability, to participate in, and contribute, to their community and the economy.


The final local project the federal and provincial governments were helping to “get off the ground” this week, is the Prince George Airport Runway Expansion. The Grand Opening of the extended runway brings with it tremendous hope and economic potential to the Prince George region by ensuring we can take full advantage of the Asia-Pacific Gateway.


The federal and provincial governments invested $11-million each in the project and I find it personally rewarding to witness the airport celebrate this milestone.  I’m confident it’s the first of many achievements we can expect from the Prince George Airport in the coming years.


Each of these local initiatives mean new money, new jobs, new economic activity and new opportunities right here in our communities.  And in these tough times, that’s welcome news.

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