Local governments from Vanderhoof to the coast are meeting in Terrace Saturday to advance their call for a share of provincial resource taxation benefits.
It’s the first full meeting of the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance since its formation was announced one year ago and since it expanded to include 21 municipalities and regional districts this spring.
The alliance is calling for money from the province to deal with the financial impacts of the increased local government services that will be needed based on projected major industrial developments in the region.
A number of those developments would take place outside of local government taxation boundaries, but the alliance wants a share of those revenues to cover their impacts within their jurisdictions.
Kitimat-Stikine regional district chair and City of Terrace councillor Stacey Tyers said the alliance is simply following through on an earlier commitment made by Premier Christy Clark to specifically share resource revenue with the northwest.
“The province has committed to such negotiations, but so far after numerous attempts to arrange a meeting with Premier Christy Clark and her staff, the [alliance] has yet to engage in discussion to begin negotiations,” she said.
Clark’s commitment dates back to the 2013 provincial election when she said she’d create a rural dividend for the north based on a share of anticipated benefits from a still-undeveloped liquefied natural gas industry.
So far, Clark has appointed a province-wide rural advisory council with one of its members being former Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski.
This spring the province turned down a $1.131 million request from the alliance to assist in its work.
At the time, the province said it would be premature to provide revenues from an industrial base which does not yet exist.
The province does, however, have a revenue sharing agreement with northeastern local governments based on revenues from oil and gas drilling and development in that region.
The northwest alliance meets behind closed doors Saturday morning to discuss its plans and to get ready for next month’s annual conference of B.C. local governments.
It will also outline its plans to senior government officials and industry officials who are invited to an afternoon session.