The Liberal government is planning to sell off several public assets in Surrey to help balance the budget it delivered today.
These include two vacant lots near 192nd Street, a former elementary school, a former school board office, and six hectares of vacant land in the Panorama neighbourhood.
"It's not sustainable," Surrey-Whalley NDP MLA Bruce Ralston said of the government's reliance on asset sales to prop up Tuesday's budget. The government says it already has sales agreements underway on 16 of 100 properties it hopes will generate $625 million for B.C.
"It's not clear it will actually happen," the NDP finance critic said.
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, echoed that. "The challenge for the government will be to sell them."
Huberman expects higher income earners - those who make more than $150,000 a year - will "not be entirely happy" with their personal income tax going up by 2.1 per cent or the general corporate income tax rate raising to 11 per cent from 10.
That said, Huberman's assessment of the budget is "thumbs up in general" because, she said, it contained a "reasoned and pragmatic" approach in tough economic times.
Some might say the government has taken a page out of the NDP's playbook by raising taxes on the rich this time around.
Huberman finds it "kind-of-like" U.S. President Obama asking the wealthy to help rather than an NDP-style grab from the rich.
Ralston sees it differently. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," he noted.
Premier Christy Clark will be in Surrey Thursday morning for her "Premier's Provincial Budget Breakfast," hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade at Eaglequest Golf Course in Newton.
Will Clark receive applause over this budget, or a get an earful instead?
"It's hard to say," Huberman replied, "because there will be a lot of big business there. I really don't know."
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