The B.C. Government has committed $300,000 to help the Northwest B.C. Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA) consult with stakeholders and lock down their proposal.
The announcement today potentially highlights the NDP government’s sincerity of entering negotiations on a resource-revenue sharing model for which the alliance has lobbied four years.
Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain is a member of the Resource Benefits Alliance. He said this $300,000 is going to help the group begin to work with the stakeholders, such as businesses, unions, non-profits and First Nations.
“But ultimately it’s to help us begin the process of negotiating the funding arrangement with the province. That will help us get down to Victoria, that will help us get in the room with the finance department and begin to start structuring an agreement that will help support economic development in the region,” Mayor Lee Brain said, adding that it’s the communities that should be benefiting from the resources that are coming out of the region.
Horgan met in person with RBA board members during a tour of the area last month, at which time he signalled the money would be coming through.
“We believe that people should benefit from the prosperity generated by their hard work, and the resources of the regions where they live,” Premier John Horgan said in a press release. “I applaud the efforts of the RBA to strengthen their local economies. We are committed to working with Northwest communities as they work to help stabilize their economy over the long term.”
The RBA consists of 18 local governments and three regional districts seeking a share of government revenue from future resource developments. The alliance says it will help transform a “have-not region” into one reaching its full potential.
“The RBA shares the government’s vision of economic development that creates good local jobs and sustainable communities,” RBA chair Bill Miller said. “We thank the Premier and minister [Robninson] for recognizing that livable, well-serviced communities are essential for economic development.”
|Northwest B.C. Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA)|
Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said the funds are expected to help the RBA build relationships with First Nations, labour, major project proponents, local business and the non-profit sector.
“Building strong, sustainable, innovative economy is a priority for this government,” she said.
Early last month the alliance put forth a suggestion that the provincial government, currently seeking input on its Rural Development Strategy, use their future proposal for resource-revenue sharing as a pilot project for the rest of the province.
“Essentially what we’re saying is, ‘let’s get on with the negotiation,” Miller said at the time. “We want to sit down and develop a model that works, primarily for our region and our communities, but they can use that as a pilot and then adjust it for other places in the province.”