We Deserve To Benefit From Economic Development In The Northwest
For too long, economic activity taking place in the region has hurt local economies instead of benefiting them.
The sustainability of our communities has been reduced rather than enhanced because:
- Most of the economic activity is outside of municipal boundaries and regional district service areas, generating little local government revenue while imposing significant costs on nearby communities;
- It drains resources needed to review and plan for proposed projects (whether they proceed or not) that could be used to provide residents with services and infrastructure; and
- The lack of community infrastructure and services makes it difficult to attract and retain workers in the resource industries and other businesses in the Northwest, including public services such as healthcare.
If we can improve the physical and social infrastructure of our communities, we can support existing businesses and new resource development to build sustainable communities – not just work camps. This will allow us to attract the workers we need to grow our service and tourism sectors and to show our potential as an ideal place for professionals and families to grow.
The Columbia Basin and Northeast regions of BC have had regional funding arrangements with the provincial government for decades, that has help the regions overcome the economic impacts caused by resource development activity. The additional revenue generated through these agreements has enabled them to successfully access cost-shared federal infrastructure funding that is twice what the Northwest has received on a per capita basis.
The provincial government has negotiated many community-specific benefits agreements related to all sorts of developments throughout the province – it’s the Northwest’s time for an agreement to move forward.
Why is funding agreement important for the Northwest?
Usually, local governments access cost-shared provincial and federal grant programs to help meet their infrastructure needs. Infrastructure spending by both levels of government has been significant since the 2009 recession, but the Northwest infrastructure deficit has not been reduced. Local governments estimate that current infrastructure needs total $600 million.
Local governments are responsible for providing services that are crucial for the sustainability and livability of their communities, including:
Land use planning, parks and recreation programming, police and first responders, social welfare programs, and many other important services
Development and maintenance of local infrastructure like roads, airports, public buildings, recreational and other facilities as well as sewer and water systems
Fostering the economic, social and environmental well-being of their communities
Development imposes significant costs on local governments but usually does not increase revenues or distribute them proportionately. As a result, local taxpayers face higher property taxes while levels of service and quality of infrastructure deteriorate, reducing community sustainability and livability. It’s time to reverse that.
Northwest communities need economic activity, including major projects, to be sustainable. The RBA is committed to using new funding to encourage and support economic growth in the region.
We are not seeking to impose any additional costs on business in the region, whether big or small.
The incremental revenue from new major project activity in the Northwest that goes to the provincial government is more than sufficient to allow the provincial government to support the Northwest in creating sustainable communities while still making an enormous contribution to BC government general revenue.
The province is focused on supporting development that creates good-paying jobs and sustainable communities. The RBA needs help from the province to build the necessary physical infrastructure (roads, bridges, sewer and water, etc.) to support resource development and the social infrastructure to ensure Northwest communities are places where workers and their families can thrive.