It must be particularly galling for Chilliwack MLA John Les to watch the NDP use the Canada Education Park as a backdrop for two recent pronouncements about post secondary education.
Les was mayor at the time when the federal government announced plans to close CFB Chilliwack. With an enormous economic hole now punched in his community, Les and other community leaders sought ways to staunch the bleeding.
They appealed to the then-governing New Democrats for help redeveloping the property.
According to Les, the NDP barely returned his calls.
When the Liberals eventually swept to power, (with Les, now an MLA, holding one of the brooms) the fortunes of the abandoned army base began to change.
It took time, but in 2004 the future of the new Canada Education Park began to take shape.
Several partners were involved, however, it was the BC Liberals who provided $7.5 million to the then University College of the Fraser Valley so it could purchase an 84-acre site for its Chilliwack campus. They provided another $21.6 million for the creation of the Trades and Technology Centre, and have contributed another $10 million for the construction of the new campus building scheduled to open next month.
So it is strange that the NDP would use the new campus as a stage to criticize the government’s commitment to post secondary education in Chilliwack.
Stranger still, however, is the Liberal absence in promoting the government’s own contributions to the park’s evolution and its importance to the city.
The park, which sits squarely in the Chilliwack-Hope riding, is a major success story for the Liberals in this region. Not only will it provide employment and educational opportunities today, it stands to become a major economic driver for years to come.
That seems a little more important than whether or not your candidate can door knock while riding a horse.
~ Greg Knill, Chilliwack Progress