MP “over the moon” with federal commitment to TCH repairs

By David F. Rooney

The federal budget of $276.36 billion budget seems to have something for everyone — including residents of Kootenay Columbia  riding, says MP David Wilks.

“I’m actually over the moon with this,” he said in a telephone interview from Ottawa after the 2014 budget was tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday, February 11.

“The budget calls for $391.5 million over five years on a cash basis to Parks Canada to make improvements to highways,  bridges and dams located in our national parks, as well as paving and other repairs to the section of the Trans-Canada Highway which passes through Glacier National Park.”

Wilks called that “extremely encouraging” and said he’d like to see $50 million to $80 million of that spent in Glacier National Park.

“I’d like to sit down with the mayor of Revelstoke, the mayor of Golden and the MLA. I think we could come up with a collaborative plan and see some really, really good things come out of this.

“I know some people would like to have seen $3 billion being spent on getting it all done right now, but I think this is pretty good.”

Repairs to the TC H have been demanded for years with little achieved, beyond the nearly $1 billion spent on the massive reconstruction project in Kicking Horse Canyon during the first decade of the 21st century. This is by far the most encouraging signal that the federal government is serious about improving the highway between the Alberta border and Ashcroft.

Wilks also said that Search and Rescue volunteers will now be eligible for a 15% tax credit on an amount f up to $3,000 similar to the tax credit granted to volunteer firefighters in the 2013 budget.

Thirdly, the budget provides $305 million to help rural communities acquire broadband Internet service and the fourth item in the budget that should be of interest to riding residents is a provision to provide interest-free loans to Red Seal apprentices studying for a trade.