Province turns down Resource Benefits Alliance request for funding

The Northwest Resource Benefits Alliance won't be seeing any money from the province until it starts seeing industry-related income.

The Northwest Resource Benefits Alliance won’t be seeing any money from the provincial government until the Province of B.C. starts seeing income from some of the major projects proposed for the region.

That was the response of Ministry of Natural Gas Development assistant deputy minister Brian Hansen and Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development assistant deputy minister Jay Schlosar to the alliance’s request for $1.131 million to cover the cost of negotiations that would eventually lead to a resource benefit sharing agreement between the provincial government and the body representing various municipalities and regional districts in the Northwest.

“At this stage, major investments in the region are still developing and making critical decisions on final investment. Significant new provincial revenues will not be realized for a number of years following those final investments … it is, in our view, premature for the province to consider entering into any agreements that would see those revenues dedicated before they are realized,” the two wrote in a letter to Kitimat — Stikine Regional District chair Stacey Tyers and presented at Port Edward council on April 28.

“We will be unable to meet the alliance’s request for funding at this time. Recognizing that all future benefits rely upon securing and enabling investments in LNG facilities, the province must continue to dedicate its primary focus on working with local governments either hosting these prospective facilities or most directly impacted by facility development.”

Port Edward chief administrative officer Bob Payette said the alliance members are currently drafting a response letter and still have hope for pursuing an agreement that would bring more money into the Northwest to handle growth associated with resource development.

“Our goal is to get to the table and begin negotiations … there is still a window of opportunity to do that,” he said, noting the alliance anticipates the negotiations themselves would last one year or more.