TERRACE, BC, June 17, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, Regional District Chairs Stacey Tyers of Kitimat-Stikine, Bill Miller of Bulkley-Nechako and Barry Pages of Skeena-Queen Charlotte, announced the expansion of the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA) to include all 21 member local governments.
"We are extremely pleased that the Regional Districts of Skeena-Queen Charlotte and Bulkley-Nechako have joined the Resource Benefits Alliance. The RBA now encompasses all local governments in the region, an area of 185,000 square kilometres," said Chair Tyers, "The strength, unity and sheer size of this Alliance is without precedent".
The RBA is seeking a cross-government revenue sharing agreement with the BC government to address infrastructure and servicing impacts, while also providing a legacy from the multi-sector economic expansion now underway in Northwest BC.
Premier Christy Clark promised the RBA revenue sharing negotiations during the 2013 provincial election and re-affirmed that commitment at the September 2014 Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference. In January 2015, Dan Doyle, the Premier's Chief of Staff, also committed to these negotiations. Despite these assurances, the RBA's urgent request for a meeting with Premier Christy Clark, key ministers including Minister of Community, Sport & Cultural Development, Coralee Oakes, and senior BC government officials to "kickstart" such negotiations is still awaiting a response.
"For the past 11 months the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance has been ready and willing to engage in revenue-sharing discussions and negotiations promised by Premier Christy Clark," said Chair Tyers, "Now more than ever, the Premier needs to give these negotiations a "kickstart". Agreements reached with industry, individual local governments, and First Nations prove that it is possible to be proactive when it comes to the negotiation of revenue sharing for the multi-sector economic expansion now underway across Northwest BC."
The BC government has demonstrated a willingness to be proactive in establishing revenue sharing contingent on future revenue streams with individual industry, First Nation, and government players, but so far the RBA has been left outside the door.
"We are excited to be part of the expanded RBA", said Chair Miller, "The once-in-a-generation multi-sector economic expansion now underway across Northwest BC impacts all of our communities from Vanderhoof to Masset from Stewart to Kitimat. It's not just about LNG. And it's not just about LNG terminals. This economic expansion is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a bright, prosperous future for rural resource communities across the Northwest."
Regional District Chair Barry Pages of Skeena-Queen Charlotte adds:
"The RBA offers the best way to work collaboratively with Premier Clark and her key Ministers to secure access to significant revenue sharing to ensure the long-term sustainability of all our communities in the Northwest. The Northwest is about more than fly-in fly-out camps and band-aid solutions. This time, Northwest BC communities must be provided access to significant revenue sharing so we can invest to build sustainable communities for the long-term."
RBA's 21 local governments will gather on August 13th, 2015 in Terrace to review and approve the 2015-2017 RBA Action Plan. Representatives of industry and the provincial and federal governments will be invited to attend.
A copy of the RBA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is available on the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine website: www.rdks.bc.ca.
SOURCE Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2015/06/17/20150617_C4615_PDF_EN_18184.pdf
For further information: Stacey Tyers, Chair of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine - 250- 615-1186; Bill Miller, Chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako - 250-896-4149; Barry Pages, Chair, Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District - 250-624-2002