Opinion

Lunney answers Burger

Parksville Chamber has hosted many popular fantasy events. The recent chamber event was not one of those, or was it?  (‘Mayor wants better voice,’ The NEWS, Feb. 18).

Parksville Mayor Chris Burger claims a “raw deal” from senior governments; his evidence — he couldn’t find Vancouver Island on an online search of the federal budget. Really?

While the Parksville mayor’s speech has fantasy appeal, it denies record investments on Vancouver Island since the Conservative government was elected. Perhaps the mayor is unaware of the unprecedented multi-million dollar investments in University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University, the new Victoria Airport interchange, or a shipbuilding program that will create careers for West Coast shipyards. Perhaps he is unaware of the multi-million dollar makeover of Nanaimo Airport that has utilization up 15 per cent in just one year, the new Nanaimo Cruise Ship Terminal, the assembly wharf rebuild, green energy investments at Harmac Mill and Catalyst Mills on the Island, perhaps he is unaware that Campbell River is booming with construction of the John Hart dam worth over $1 billion.

The mayor should be willing to acknowledge federal investment in the Parksville area — the million dollar upgrades that renewed Moilliet Street, new wells on Despard Avenue, Parksville Sport Field renewal ($165,000), Hustwick Place, new lighting at Oceanside Place, Church Road Transfer Station, French Creek water treatment upgrades, Ravensong Pool new roof and water management system, the Deep Bay Shellfish Research Centre, Qualicum Beach’s Berwick water storage ($1 million), Laburnum Road connector ($1 million), and his own pet project, pilot program for aquifer storage.

These are just a few of the recent investments on Vancouver Island, much delivered during a world-wide recession and while transfers to B.C. continue to increase, this year $5.3 billion for health care and social services that Islanders depend on. Of course, that was in the budget along with increased funding programs for seniors, veterans, salmon enhancement and forestry renewal.

Major community/regional projects involve partnerships and collaboration between levels of government.  Whatever the mayor’s motives or ambitions, to deny federal investments in Oceanside and on Vancouver Island is a denial of reality.

Yes, the rail issue has gone on for too long. Many people worked hard to secure a $15 million commitment from senior governments. It’s time for VIA to come through. That said, it is not clear that Mayor Burger’s proposed Mayor’s Caucus would be seeking a $140-$150 million train investment, with a third from their own budgets. Or that the 13 municipalities and First Nation communities that make up the ICF would appreciate his dismissal of their representative.

So, clearly, the mayor has something else on his mind. He has recast himself in the role of an opposition candidate. Unfortunately, in so doing, Mayor Burger has created a conflict of interest that needs to be resolved quickly.

To campaign as a federal opposition candidate from his position as mayor is a conflict of interest that comes at the expense of the citizens of Parksville and the current federal representative. If that is his intention, the mayor should do the honourable thing, resign his current post and advise the good citizens of Oceanside which opposition party he intends to campaign for. And that is the reality.

— James Lunney is the MP for Nanaimo-Alberni. E-mail: nanaimo@jameslunneymp.ca

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