The year is new, but Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo’s already got both eyes on the future.
“I see my role as moving things forward,” says the first-term MLA. “The economy, infrastructure projects, those are all things I’m looking to advance, both in our province and in our riding.”
Kyllo says, under the Liberal government’s direction, the province is well positioned for growth and increasing prosperity, even in light of economic uncertainties brought on by a decline in the oil industry.
He notes some of Canada’s chief economists have forecast B.C. to be No. 1 in terms of growth in 2016. He points to the strides the province has made in diversifying its economy in sectors like natural gas, agrifoods and technology, as well as the focus on creating new markets in Asia, as key to B.C.’s economic success.
“It’s the old saying of not keeping all your eggs in one basket – with forest, mining, natural gas and the new LNG industry, plus tourism, tech and international education – we’re the envy of other provinces in Canada.”
While he notes the Liberals’ emphasis on LNG has its critics, Kyllo cites it as critical to the province’s future prosperity. The Petronas project, he notes, has a value of $44 billion, and would make it the single largest private investment in the country. Its impact on the economy as a whole would ripple across nearly every area and sector in the province, he says.
Kyllo also cites the past three years of balanced budgets as evidence of the province’s economic stability, providing a critical climate to support investors.
“Our triple A credit rating also means we can borrow at low interest rates, which if you compare us to Ontario’s rating, has saved us $2.1 billion in interest alone. I know a lot of people think, ‘who cares?’ about stuff like this, but it really has a significant impact to taxpayers.”
The economy is Kyllo’s forté, noting he is the first non-cabinet member to be asked to sit on Premier Christy Clark’s priorities and planning committee.
“It’s great to have that voice at the table and also to make sure the needs of rural B.C. and the Shuswap are represented.”
While he concurs that B.C. has its share of social issues, Kyllo says a better economic climate will help solve those issues.
“The economic engine pulls the cart of social programs,” he says, pointing to a new program which will offer single parents funding for child care, transportation and training grants to re-enter the workforce.
“It makes sense to offer our government supports to a program that will get people back into the workforce and able to provide for their families.”
Asked to look back at the past year, Kyllo cites a number of key accomplishments including the provision of additional assisted- living suites in Enderby Terrace, the completion of the Hummingbird Bridge, the work beginning on the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 97 interchange in Sicamous and the stage being set for the upgrading of the Trans-Canada Highway at the Salmon River Bridge.
While he says tourism improved over the past year and shows promise thanks to the lower value of the Canadian dollar, Kyllo’s also focused on the benefits of the agrifoods industry, which is growing in the region, especially with dairy and poultry producers moving from the Lower Mainland.
This year, Kyllo is hoping to help advance additional investments in improving the Shuswap transportation network.
“While government moves differently than private business, there’s lots happening,” he says, citing his oft-repeated phrase. “We are moving forward.”