British Columbia’s finance minister is promising to stay the course in her next budget to be tabled Tuesday in the legislature, while also monitoring potential storm clouds looming over the economy. Finance Minister Carole James releases the provincial public accounts report during a press conference at the press gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Budget impact on Langley – climate, safety, and eventually, transit

Langley Township’s mayor talked about possible local impacts

The provincial budget presented in the legislature Tuesday doesn’t hold any dramatic changes for Langley Township or its neighbouring municipalities, said Mayor Jack Froese.

“It’s one of those ‘stand pat’ budgets,” Froese said of the budget introduced by provincial finance minister Carole James.

However, there may be some items in the budget that could impact local programs, including climate change action and funding for Victim Services and policing.

New funding of $419 million over three years for Clean BC could include some money for local climate change projects.

There is also another $20 million in the budget for financing electric vehicle incentives. As electric vehicles become more common, the Township has seen a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of drivers using its charging stations.

There is also $41 million in the budget for public safety and support, including victim services, corrections, and crime prevention.

It’s unknown yet whether that might mean some more money for local Victim Services programs.

Other changes are farther off but could have a long-term impact on transit connections in Langley and points east, noted Froese.

READ MORE: Seven things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

The recent throne speech mentioned long-term plans to extend rail into the Fraser Valley.

While much remains unclear about that plan, the current budget does include some funding for planning for integrated transportation and land use for the Fraser Valley, Froese said.

That could be the first, early step towards planning for a rail route farther into Abbotsford or even Chilliwack from Langley.

But the big change in local transit will have to wait for the next provincial budget, Froese noted.

It’s next year that the province will have to make decisions about funding for Phase Three of the vision of the TransLink Mayors’ Council.

The federal budget this spring is expected to include money for various transportation projects across the country, possibly including the extension of SkyTrain to Langley.

Froese also noted that the homeowner’s grant threshold has been rolled back somewhat to $1.525 million from $1.65 million in 2019.

Most properties in B.C. saw their assessed value decline slightly in 2020, but Froese noted that was after increases in previous years.

“Over two years, most properties stayed the same or maybe even increased a bit,” he said.

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