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Shipbuilding and transit spending for B.C.

Globe and Mail Update

OTTAWA — New Coast Guard ships will be built in British Columbia and Vancouver's Evergreen Transit Line wins an extension as the federal budget outlined Canada's plan to spend its way out of the economic recession.

In addition to billions for skills training and infrastructure projects nation-wide, the Conservatives' 2009 federal budget includes several specific measures aimed directly at British Columbians.

In his budget speech Tuesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised that public transportation in Vancouver will be benefit as a result of the federal stimulus package.

“In British Columbia, funds will flow for the Evergreen Transit Line and for a more modern railway station in Vancouver – key projects as the city prepares to host the Olympic Winter Games,” said Mr. Flaherty in his House of Commons budget speech.

On shipbuilding, the budget promises $175-million for new Coast Guard vessels and repairs to the existing fleet. Ottawa indicates that when the contracts are awarded, work will be conducted in Canada and, where possible, by shipyards located within the regions of the vessels' home ports.

The Coast Guard is in line for 80 new small craft and 30 new environmental response barges. There will also be five new lifeboats home-ported in Prince Rupert, Campbell River, Dartmouth, Quebec City and Burlington, Ont.

Two Coast Guard ships ported in Victoria, B.C. – the CCGS Bartlett and the CCGS Tanu – will receive “vessel life extensions.”

For small craft harbours, the budget pledges $1.9-million for repairs at the Stevenson Harbour and $300,000 for wharf repairs at Ladysmith Harbour.

Border infrastructure that would lead to Pacific Highway improvements is included, as well as added Canada Border Services Agency infrastructure in northern B.C.

Meanwhile, B.C.'s Fort Nelson Airport is listed in the budget as a possible beneficiary of an $81-million fund for cleaning up contaminated sites.

The province's mountain pine beetle woes are also mentioned as an example for spending that will flow from a $1-billion nation-wide “community adjustment fund.” The budget provides few details on the fund, which “will help mitigate the short-term impacts of restructuring communities.”

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