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JS: Olympic costs include 1) costs associated specifically with the Olympics, and 2) cost overruns associated with rushing projects to get them done before the Olympics. Using this principle, the cost of the Sea to Sky Highway would not be included as an Olympic cost. Part of the Canada Line likely would be counted because the costs were higher due to making it a rush project. In the case of the new convention centre building, about half of the costs should be assigned to the Olympics since the costs doubled as a result of starting the project before designs were complete and firm bids could be obtained.
Pique: Run of River hydro projects have emerged as an issue in this election. How would you resolve conflicts between power companies, the province, and local governments in Sea to Sky?
JS: While some diversion projects on small rivers are likely an important part of increasing our supply of green energy, the current government has managed to find a policy which fails to select the best projects, creates excessive private profit at the expense of B.C. Hydro and jeopardizes future public control over the uses of our rivers. A better approach would be to identify, in advance, those rivers with the largest power potential and the least environmental sensitivity. Private companies could then be invited to bid on the development of the project, competing against each other. In contradiction to this model, claims to "water licences" are being auctioned off for small amounts, which give private companies essentially a monopoly right to develop the river to which they hold a claim. While the first term of the leases are for 30 years, the rights to renew may be governed by NAFTA provisions.
Pique: Local governments throughout the riding are increasing property taxes above inflation this year, and are partially blaming downloading from the province for shifting the tax burden. Is there another solution?
JS: Municipalities are caught in the squeeze between the limited taxing authority grudgingly granted by senior governments and the increasing costs of the many services they provide. The solution is to expand the revenue sources available to municipal governments. One possibility is to keep the increasing tax on carbon revenue-neutral by using some of the growing revenues to reduce property taxes.