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Clark commits $30 million for recreation centres, encourages 'circle of love'

The province of British Columbia will create a $30 million fund for capital projects such as recreation centres that promote healthy living, Premier Christy Clark said this morning.

It was a rare spending commitment in a speech to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention this morning that largely reiterated Clark and the government's priorities.

The money will go to as many as 75 projects, with rural communities given priority, making the average amount available $400,000. Clark said she was "proud" of the "modest" amount. The government will take applications between Oct. 14 and Dec. 28 for the money.

Clark also spoke about creating a "circle of love" in the province where people care for one another, saying the idea comes from First Nations communities.

She mentioned that the province today starts paying for smoking cessation products, including pharmaceuticals. She also said she smoked 17 years and understands personally how hard it is to quit.

She later told reporters that she quit cold turkey, but that she was pleased more than 300 prescriptions for anti-smoking drugs have already been filled in the province today.

She reconfirmed a $583 million commitment for the Evergreen transit line, stressed the importance of trade with China and India and committed to covering the cost of a municipal auditor general's office.

"Short on details once again," said Carole James, the NDP MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. "I heard a lot about selling British Columbia, but in order to be a good salesperson you need a plan. You need a specific plan with targets and goals. I haven't seen any of that from the premier."

James said $30 million won't go far for recreation centres and noted that in the 2009 election the NDP promised $100 million for a similar initiative.

MLAs return to the legislature Monday, a day that will include the first throne speech since Clark became premier.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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