BC Liberal leader Christy Clark came to the Northwest yesterday but did not take the opportunity to support the Northwest BC Resource Benefit Alliance or commit to beginning resource benefits negotiations by September 9, 2017 as the RBA has requested. Instead, not only did Clark not provide commitment, she also claims the Liberal government did not back out of the commitment made to the RBA in the last provincial election.
When pressed by reporter Jackie Lieuwen, from the Terrace Standard, about backing out of the commitment, Clark stated: “No, it’s not (correct), We’ve got a $100 million in our rural dividend fund which we’ve been distributing across the province and we’re going to continue to do that. We’ve extended it again.”
“The rural dividend fund is simply not sufficient to meet the needs of British Columbia’s Northwest,” says Bill Miller, RBA Chair and Chair of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. “To date, Northwest local governments have had $900,000 of project grants approved under the program, just 4% of the total grants approved. Program limits and criteria mean the program does not address any of the issues being raised by the RBA and certainly is not revenue sharing.”
“To date there has been only one party leader who has committed to prompt revenue sharing negotiations and that is John Horgan, Leader of the BC NDP. But, whoever forms the next government can expect us on their doorstep immediately and continually until a deal is done. The power of 21 united local governments backed by 85% of Northwest residents is undeniable, and attests to how important this issue is to the livability and sustainability of the region,” says Miller.
“The BC Liberal Party’s message has been that they support development and once that development generates revenue, they will consider providing benefits to the Northwest. In fact, there has already been lots of development, generating significant new provincial revenues and local costs, and there is lots more coming, whether or not LNG projects proceed,” says Phil Germuth, RBA Vice-Chair, Chair of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and Mayor of Kitimat.
“In the 2016 and 2017 provincial budgets, $500 million was contributed to the Prosperity Fund, created to manage expected LNG revenues. If there is money to set aside for the future, there is money to provide a reasonable revenue share to Northwest communities, who are struggling under the burden of extra costs due to current and future developments. In fact, the RBA believes that additional provincial revenues earned over the past five years from Northwest BC major development projects is about $500 million,” says Barry Pages, Vice-Chair of the RBA and Chair of the North Coast Regional District.
Bill Miller, RBA Chair and Chair of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
Barry Pages, RBA Vice-Chair and Chair of the North Coast Regional District
Mayor Phil Germuth, RBA Vice-Chair and Chair of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine