During a joint address with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, Premier John Horgan said the idea of an alternative to the Malahat would be for the province to decide.
The leaders spoke side-by-side at the B.C. legislature on Friday evening after Trudeau visited the flood-ravaged Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford earlier in the day.
The Prime Minister was asked if the federal government would help fund some sort of alternative to the Malahat, but Horgan quickly stepped in to “give a pass” to Trudeau and field the question himself. Horgan, who’s also the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca, noted the Malahat “is in my constituency, I’ve been dealing with it my entire life.”
“I’ve been working with the department of highways as an opposition member, as opposition leader and now as Premier to make sure that we have the best way out of Victoria, into the North Island,” he said. “It’s not a federal concern.”
Damage to sections of the highway caused traffic and supply chain disruptions for days after the record rain hit the South Island on Nov. 15. As crews worked non-stop to repair the washed-out areas and vehicles crawled through a single lane of alternating traffic for days, some advocates revived calls for an alternate route.
Horgan said he knows the federal government would be there for support, “but we need to find our own solution.” There are many places where B.C. and the feds could collaborate on the topic, Horgan said before briefly mentioning a rail corridor going unused on the Island.
“The Malahat is the responsibility of the provincial government and we have the responsibility – and I do as a Premier from southern Vancouver Island – to make sure I’m doing everything I can to make sure we can solve those issues going forward.”
Right now though, Horgan said his focus remains on the massive problems facing B.C.’s Interior, adding that he thinks that’s where Islanders’ focus is as well.
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