Christy Clark brushes off criticism from Kevin Falcon about wood building
B.C. Premier Christy Clark continues to face criticism from within her own party, this time from former finance minister Kevin Falcon, over her promises to build a new centre for wood innovation in Prince George.
In 2011, Clark said the government would build "the world's tallest multi-use wood building" to house the new research centre.
That led many to conclude the building would have to be at least 10 storeys tall to match the size of existing wood buildings. Some estimates put the cost of a 10-storey wood structure at $100 million.
Falcon says it was clearly not something the province could deliver, because the province had only committed $25 million to the project.
On Sunday he told The Globe and Mail the premier overstepped the limits of what the province was willing to pay for the new building.
Falcon came second to Clark in the B.C. Liberal's 2011 leadership race and is not running again in the upcoming May election, leading to speculation he may be trying to distance himself from Clark with his comments, perhaps in preparation for a run for federal politics.
He was not at the legislature on Monday when the premier was forced to sidestep questions from reporters about his comments, saying she did not know what motivated Falcon's words.
"I don't know what motivates anybody's comments, but the thing is, at the end of the day, this project is happening," said Clark.
"Particularly over a period of time...projects will change, the scope of things will change, budgets will change."
But NDP leader Adrian Dix said he was not impressed by Clark's explanation.
"Clearly the government, on this issue in terms of its fiscal management, has been found wanting — not by me, but by Mr. Falcon," said Dix.
The Wood Innovation and Design Centre will be built at the old Prince George Hotel site on George Street and is expected to house both academic and research programs focused on advancing B.C.'s expertise in wood-related products.
It is not the first time the project has been in the news. Last month a Prince George developer alleged that Jobs Minister Pat Bell personally promised him he would be short listed for the project, but the minister insisted everything was handled properly.