The Prince Rupert region will benefit from more than $6.5 million in new provincial funding towards local infrastructure and service improvements.
This is part of a $75 million investment in communities across northern B.C., said Jennifer Rice, MLA for the North Coast.
“This investment comes at a critical time for communities in the Northwest, which are struggling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rice said. “As we begin renewing B.C.’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, this funding will help improve services, infrastructure, and job opportunities for people in the Northwest, and ensure we can meet the needs of growing communities like Prince Rupert.”
“The funding is being provided through two streams: the 2020 Northern Capital and Planning Grant, and the B.C. Northern Healthy Communities Fund. The funding will help address communities’ infrastructure needs as they prepare for major resource and economic development, and support local delivery of critical services, such as health and mental health care, housing and child care,” said Rice in a press release.
The $75 million provincial investment is in addition to the $100 million provided through the Northern Capital and Planning Grant to communities in the northwest in 2019.
“It is part of ongoing dialogue between the Province and B.C.’s northwest and north-central communities on how to support the region over the longer term,” the release said
“Accessing a share of local revenues to help support our critical infrastructure needs is essential for our communities to keep pace with development,” Lee Brain, mayor of Prince Rupert and co-chair of the Northwest Resource Benefit Alliance said.
“We are pleased to see the Province making this financial commitment, especially in a time when our communities are seeing revenue losses related to COVID-19.”
Healthy community growth, during major resource development, and building infrastructure to meet the needs of people in the region, will be aided by further provincial support in B.C.’s North.
The 2020 Northern Capital and Planning Grant will provide $50 million directly to local governments to help address their infrastructure needs. From this, municipalities with more than 8,000 people will receive between $5.2 million and $6.6 million. Municipalities with fewer than 8,000 people will receive between $300,000 and $3.7 million and regional districts will receive between $400,000 and $1.6 million.
Another $25 million will be available to communities as they prepare for major economic development through the B.C. Northern Healthy Communities Fund, which will be administered through the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
“Northern B.C. is rich in natural resources, but its strongest asset is its people,” Premier John Horgan said.
“We are proud to work in partnership with northern communities. These funds will help address the social and infrastructure needs that arise out of the many exciting economic developments underway in those communities. We are investing in northern jobs, roads and public services – and most importantly, in northern people.”
“The need to invest in northern B.C.’s infrastructure and community services is vital, and this funding has a new and significant role to play in contributing to our province’s economic recovery, especially in light of COVID-19’s impacts on B.C.’s people, communities and economy,” Carole James, minister of finance said
Through the Northern Capital Planning Grant, eligible local governments can expect to receive the following based on their populations and base assessments.
“People are at the heart of strong, resilient communities and this funding is part of our continued commitment to invest in the hard-working people of the North,” Selina Robinson, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said.
“We have been listening to northern communities about their need to be ready to seize the opportunities presented by expected growth and resource development. With this funding, they will be able to plan to tackle both the infrastructure and socio-economic needs their communities are facing.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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