Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Province of Southern BC

The time has come to consider Southern BC as separate province. The economics of southern BC are dramatically different than the north, the island or the lower mainland. It has very different needs than the other regions.

I would propose splitting the province roughly along the lines of the Health Authorities. This would mean the new Southern Interior province would run from Manning Park to the Rockies and have the Thompson Nicola Regional District as the northern boundary, though Clinton and area would move into the north.

This new province would have a population of about 650 000. In the context of Canada this is on the low end, only PEI and NFLD having a smaller population. In 15 years, by about 2023, the population will pass that of New Brunswick and by the middle of the 21st century the population will be in the range of Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Southern BC would be a strongly resource based economy with forestry and mining being core. It would also have a strong agricultural sector and a strong tourism sector. Currently the economics are politically defined by the lower mainland.

The province would boast about a dozen world class ski resorts. It would also be home to the bulk of the wine industry.

The region also has two universities and a quickly growing knowledge sector.

The way BC is governed means that it would not take a lot to divide the provincial civil service as it already has a strongly regional nature.

The new legislature of Southern BC would likely have about 50 MLAs instead of the roughly 12 they have at the moment. The average MLA would represent 12 000 people. This means that there will more people elected from the rural communities of the region. Merritt and area would elect an MLA, so to would the Gold Trail area.

Even though Kelowna is the big fish in the new province, it is not overly dominant. Kelowna represents about a quarter of the population. Kamloops alone is a strong counter balance outside of the Okanagan.

Nationally this new province would have 6 Senators and 8 MPs. Right now the area has 6 MPs and and no senators tied to the area.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hwy 37 Power

I was alerted to an article on the Terrace Standard about the Hwy 37 power issue. With the shelving of the Galore Creek project, a large part of the financing for the extension of the grid fell away. It looked like the power line would not go ahead. But the other companies in the region have stepped up and offered to put money in the development stages of the project.

I am happy to see that the idea is not dead and is being pushed. I would like to see the construction of the line all the way to Yukon and Alaska and connect them to the grid. There are huge green power sources in the north and the line would make them possible.

With a power line in place there are so many options possible for development along the hwy 37 corridor that would benefit all of BC. There are numerous mines that only need access to power to make them feasible. It makes sense to build this piece of infrastructure. I believe that the business case is good enough that it could be built privately. If I had the resources to spend time on developing it as a business, I would be pounding the pavement to get the line built as far as Alaska. I am sure that Alaska and Yukon would offer to cover some of the costs. One can make a lot of money wheeling power.

I would look at going big right away, a 500 Kv line with the ability to twin if needed. There is the power out there. If you build it, they will come.

I think I might spend some time fleshing out what it would cost to build.