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March 30, 2016
In This Issue
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

Federal government pauses on Pacific Northwest LNG

While onlookers in B.C. anxiously awaited the federal government’s decision last week on the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG project near Prince Rupert, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency kicked the can down the road for at least three more months.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna granted a three-month extension to the project’s federal review to give officials more time to scrutinize potential impacts on eelgrass beds, prime habitat for spawning salmon.

After the decision, the B.C. Government dispatched officials to Ottawa. Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman (seen touring an LNG complex owned by Pacific Northwest LNG majority owner Petronas with Premier Christy Clark in 2014) said it was incumbent on all sides to “overcome the delay” so that the province could reap the rewards of a project that could generate an estimated $36 billion in private sector investment while creating as many as 18,600 jobs.

Despite running into a series of roadblocks, the B.C. government says it remains committed to developing an LNG industry in B.C. The province welcomed the federal budget’s continuation of accelerated capital cost allowance rates that are critical to LNG’s success. Public shows of support like trucker rallies for LNG in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson have the government convinced it is on the right track.

Feds say they’ll be flexible with infrastructure funding
Federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi says provinces and municipalities will have the power to to set their own priorities for how they invest federal infrastructure dollars announced in this week’s federal budget.

Speaking to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Minister Sohi highlighted the budget’s allocation of $370 million for Metro Vancouver transit. He said he has met with the TransLink Mayors’ Council and said municipal leaders are supportive of the federal government’s “very few strings”-attached approach.

Shakeup in B.C. civil service

A series of changes rippled through B.C.’s senior public service last week. John Dyble, deputy minister to the Premier, is retiring. Taking over for him is Kim Henderson, the former deputy minister of finance (pictured).

In the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Lori Wanamaker takes over as deputy minister from Mark Siemens, who assumes Wanamaker’s former role as deputy minister in Public Safety and the Solicitor General. One new appointment drew the Opposition NDP’s attention: former Fraser Institute director Fazil Mihlar becomes deputy minister responsible for implementing B.C.’s climate leadership plan.