Representatives from 21 municipalities and regional districts encompassing Haida Gwaii to Vanderhoof gathered in Terrace on Aug. 15 to formalize the Northwest Resource Benefits Alliance.
The goal of the alliance is to push the provincial government to share what is projected to be $35 billion in new revenues from projects in the Northwest over the next 25 years. Based on that estimate, a three per cent revenue share would equate to $1 billion.
Given that Urban Systems Ltd. forecasts a $500 million infrastructure deficit among the municipalities involved in the alliance, newly-elected chair Stacey Tyers said there would be no shortage of uses for the money.
“The summit resulted in the development of three priorities: addressing infrastructure needs, mitigating social impacts and developing a legacy fund so that we can look forward to a sustainable future,” she said, noting the intent isn’t to be confused with grants already offered by the province.
“We want to be at the table to negotiate our share.”
In addition to creating an action plan for the coming year, the officials elected an executive that includes chair Tyers and vie chairs Bill Miller of the Regional District of Bulkley – Nechako and Barry Pages of the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District.
“This is an historic and commendable process that the 21 local governments have been engaged in – we are excited and looking forward to coming up with a revenue sharing agreement with the provincial government that meets the needs of the Northwest,” said Pages.
“We are looking forward to the province sitting down with the [alliance] and coming up with an agreement that is a win-win for everybody.”
While the municipal and regional leaders may be wanting an agreement, an idea they claim has support of industry, the provincial government has thus far not been as supportive of reaching an agreement in the near future.
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.
– With files from the Terrace Standard.