Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District chair Barry Pages joined with his Northwest B.C. counterparts to demand the provincial government live up to their election promises for a revenue sharing agreement.
Skeena-Queen Charlotte has joined with the regional districts of Kitimat-Stikine and Bulkley Valley to expand the Northwest B.C. Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA) to include all 21 member local governments.
“The RBA offers the best way to work collaboratively with Premier (Christy) Clark and her key ministers to secure access to significant revenue sharing to ensure the long-term sustainability of all our communities in the Northwest,” Pages said in a statement. “The Northwest is about more than fly-in, fly-out camps and band-aid solutions. This time, Northwest B.C. communities must be provided access to significant revenue sharing so we can invest to build sustainable communities for the long-term.”
The RBA is seeking a cross-government revenue sharing agreement with the B.C. government to address infrastructure and servicing impacts, while also providing a legacy from the multi-sector economic expansion now underway in the region.
Clark promised the RBA revenue sharing negotiations during the 2013 provincial election and re-affirmed that commitment at the September 2014 Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference.
In January 2015, Dan Doyle, the Premier’s chief of staff, also committed to these negotiations. Despite these assurances, the RBA’s urgent request for a meeting with Clark, key ministers including Minister of Community, Sport & Cultural Development, Coralee Oakes, and senior B.C. government officials to “kickstart” such negotiations is still awaiting a response.
“For the past 11 months the Northwest B.C. Resource Benefits Alliance has been ready and willing to engage in revenue-sharing discussions and negotiations promised by Premier Christy Clark,” said Chair Stacey Tyers.
“Now more than ever, the Premier needs to give these negotiations a “kickstart”. Agreements reached with industry, individual local governments, and First Nations prove that it is possible to be proactive when it comes to the negotiation of revenue sharing for the multi-sector economic expansion now underway across Northwest B.C.”
The B.C. government has demonstrated a willingness to be proactive in establishing revenue sharing contingent on future revenue streams with individual industry, First Nations, and government players, but so far the RBA has been left outside the door.
“We are excited to be part of the expanded RBA,” Bill Miller of Bulkley-Nechako, said. “The once-in-a-generation multi-sector economic expansion now underway across Northwest B.C. impacts all of our communities from Vanderhoof to Masset from Stewart to Kitimat. It’s not just about LNG. And it’s not just about LNG terminals. This economic expansion is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a bright, prosperous future for rural resource communities across the Northwest.”
RBA’s 21 local governments will gather on Aug. 13, 2015 in Terrace to review and approve the 2015-2017 RBA Action Plan. Representatives of industry and the provincial and federal governments will be invited to attend.
“We are extremely pleased that the regional districts of Skeena-Queen Charlotte and Bulkley-Nechako have joined the Resource Benefits Alliance. The RBA now encompasses all local governments in the region, an area of 185,000 square kilometres,” said Tyers, “The strength, unity and sheer size of this alliance is without precedent.”