Clark to run again in Okana­gan

Pre­mier of B.C. ac­claimed for Kelowna West rid­ing at lo­cal event on Satur­day

The Daily Courier - - WESTSIDE WEEKLY - By BARB AGUIAR

West Kelowna could have the pre­mier’s ear for an­other term should the B.C. Lib­er­als win the Kelowna West rid­ing and pro­vin­cial elec­tion set for May 2017.

Any spec­u­la­tion that Pre­miere Christy Clark would re­turn to run in a Vancouver rid­ing in the 2017 pro­vin­cial elec­tion was put to rest when Clark was ac­claimed as the BC Lib­eral party can­di­date for the Kelowna West rid­ing at the Beans n’ Jeans So­cial at By­lands Nurs­ery on Satur­day evening. The event, which was open to the com­mu­nity and B.C. Lib­eral Party mem­bers, saw Okana­gan Lib­eral MLAs, as well as cur­rent and for­mer mu­nic­i­pal and fed­eral politi­cians among the guests.

Clark be­came the MLA for West­side-Kelowna in a by-elec­tion in 2013 af­ter Lib­eral MLA Ben Ste­wart stepped aside for Clark to run. The pre­mier had lost to David Eby in her rid­ing of Vancouver-Point Grey in the pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

“I built a home here, my son loves it here and I’ve been wel­comed with open arms here,” said Clark about her de­ci­sion to run in the Okana­gan

Dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans, Clark gave a rous­ing speech to a crowd of al­most 500 be­fore un­furl­ing an elec­tion ban­ner.

“We’re go­ing to be head­ing into a cam­paign in April. Ev­ery­thing is gear­ing up and ev­ery­body is ex­cited,“said Brad Bennett, son of for­mer B.C. pre­mier Bill Bennett and chair of BC Hy­dro, who nom­i­nated Clark.

Bennett urged the crowd to keep the en­ergy build­ing.

“Our big­gest en­emy when things are feel­ing good isn’t the NDP nec­es­sar­ily, it’s ap­a­thy within our own ranks,” he said.

In her speech, Clark talked of the pro­vin­cial Lib­er­als’ record of bal­anced bud­gets, sur­pluses, job cre­ation and eco­nomic growth.

“When you look across North Amer­ica, there isn’t a sin­gle econ­omy that is suc­ceed­ing the way the Bri­tish Columbia econ­omy is,” said Clark.

She cred­ited the peo­ple of B.C.’s op­ti­mism for the prov­ince’s suc­cess. “I be­lieve in the sense of op­ti­mism that peo­ple here have; the self-re­liance that Bri­tish Columbians carry in­side them every day; the will­ing­ness to work hard, to build a so­ci­ety that we can be proud of, where we have wealth to share with one an­other.”

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Find­later was pleased at the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing the pre­mier of B.C. as an MLA again.

“Christy Clark is good for West Kelowna,” Find­later said. “She has been an in­cred­i­ble MLA for us.”

Find­later listed off projects Clark has helped with such as the BC Hy­dro se­cond trans­mis­sion line, McDougall Creek fund­ing and fund­ing for the Hori­zon Lift sta­tion.

Should the B.C. Lib­er­als re­turn to power and Clark be re-elected, Find­later has a long list of projects such as work on High­way 97 in­clud­ing a se­cond cross­ing and se­cond cor­ri­dor that would move the high­way away from the cou­plet as well as in­fra­struc­ture projects such as an­other treat­ment plant in the Lake­view sys­tem.

When asked what West Kelowna projects Clark would sup­port should she be re-elected, she re­sponded there was more work to do on the health cen­tre for West Kelowna, as well as im­prov­ing trans­porta­tion by chang­ing the cou­plet and get­ting the se­cond cross­ing un­der­way.

Kelowna-Mis­sion MLA Steve Thom­son’s can­di­dacy will be an­nounced this week­end at the El­do­rado Ho­tel.

BARB AGUIAR/West­side Weekly

Brad Bennett, left, son of for­mer B.C. pre­mier Bill Bennett, smiles as Pre­mier Christy Clark, MLA for West­side-Kelowna, was ac­claimed as the B.C. Lib­eral can­di­date for the Kelowna West rid­ing for the May 2017 elec­tion. Be­low: Bennett and Clark hold up a ban­ner.

BARB AGUIAR/West­side Weekly

Young Kelowna mu­si­cian Elias Ord and Ian Roberts of Wales take a photo with Pre­mier Christy Clark af­ter her speech.

BARB AGUIAR/West­side Weekly

Clark gave a rous­ing speech to the crowd of al­most 500.

BARB AGUIAR/West­side Weekly

Al­most 500 peo­ple gath­ered at By­lands on Satur­day evening to see Christy Clark ac­claimed as the B.C. Lib­eral can­di­date for the Kelowna West rid­ing.

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