The B.C. election ramped up in the South Okanagan this weekend with visits from two party leaders in two days.
On Sunday, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visited the South Okanagan and Boundary areas and made campaign promises to spend money on improving rural internet and bolstering flood protection.
Wilkinson’s first stop was at the Sportsmen’s Bowl area, near Oliver, which experienced serious flooding in 2018 that forced dozens of people from their homes for months.
There he made a campaign promise to spend $15 million on flood mitigation in the area if elected.
Wilkinson said it would be up to the regional district to determine exactly how the flood protection funds would be spent.
Next the Liberal leader visited an Oliver-area distillery before hosting a drive-in rally with local Liberal candidate Petra Veintimilla in Osoyoos.
The drive-in format, meant to accommodate COVID-19 safety precautions, saw Wilkinson and Veintimilla speak from the back of pickup trucks as many attendees watched from their vehicles.
The typical applause was replaced with the honking of car horns.
At the Osoyoos drive-in rally, Wilkinson criticized land use restrictions for the agriculture sector and the incumbent NDP government’s handling of the province’s forestry industry, before pledging money for expanding rural internet coverage.
The party said it will spend $100 million over five years “to significantly expand high-speed internet and mobile coverage” if the Liberals form government.
“If you have tried to use the internet in various parts of British Columbia you know it’s spotty. We can do better!” Wilkinson told the rally.
“We as a BC Liberal government will be investing $100-million in improved connectivity for all our communities across British Columbia.”
The Boundary-Similkameen riding where Wilkinson was campaign Sunday has been identified as a riding to watch.
The previous representative, BC Liberal MLA Linda Larson, is not running again.
Two local politicians are among those vying for the seat.
Liberal candidate Petra Veintimilla is an Oliver councillor and regional district director Roly Russell is running for the BC NDP.
BC NDP leader John Horgan was also campaigning in the south Okanagan this weekend.
On Saturday, Horgan visited a child care facility in Penticton where he pledged to address childcare waitlists and increase daycare spaces.
In the Penticton riding, BC Liberal incumbent Dan Ashton is facing a challenge from Summerland’s mayor Toni Boot who is running for the BC NDP.
– with files from Shelby Thom, Doyle Potenteau, Richard Zussman, Simon Little and Darrian Matassa-Fung