B.C. business summit focuses on economic drivers

A B.C. business summit, the first of its kind, brought movers and shakers in commerce and politics together in Vancouver this week to explore means of building prosperity.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone took part in a session that addressed the business of moving goods and people.

Stone said the discussion focused on three key priorities involving trade, roads and railways.

One is the need to "refresh" the Pacific Gateway alliance to build on the $22 billion invested by senior governments in the trade initiative over the last seven years, he said.

"We're committed to another $25 billion over the next seven years," Stone said.

Pacific Gateway is seen as a critical element in strengthening Canada's trade with emerging Asian economies.

Upgrading the Trans-Canada Highway is another transportation strategy for invigorating the economy as infrastructure that stitches the country together, Stone said.

Last February, Stone's predecessor Mary Polak said in Kamloops that the province is committed to a 10-year, 440-kilometre upgrading project, but that would require matching funds from the federal government.

Looking ahead to Canada's 150 anniversary in 2017, the Western provinces are hoping to encourage Ottawa to come up with its financial share for highway improvements.

Stone said he met recently with his counterparts from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, who agreed that the national highway should be a common priority.

A third focal point for the transportation session was railway capacity and safety, the latter a going concern in the aftermath of the Lac Megantic disaster with a push by municipalities to be informed about dangerous goods shipped through communities.

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