SOURCE: Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance

May 03, 2017 12:25 ET

Still No Party Leaders Commit to Revenue Sharing in Northwest B.C.

TERRACE, BC--(Marketwired - May 03, 2017) - None of the major party leaders have made an official commitment to begin negotiations for a regional revenue sharing agreement with the Northwest B.C. Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA) by September 9, 2017, should their party be elected.

"While every candidate in the region has expressed at least some support for the RBA and revenue sharing for the Northwest in all-candidates meetings, interviews, Facebook posts, emails or letters, none of the Liberal, NDP or Green party leaders have made the specific commitment we have requested. Last election we received a general promise that wasn't kept. This time around we need a specific commitment to promptly negotiate from each party leader so we can hold them to account after the election," says Bill Miller, RBA Chair and Chair of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

On April 12, 2017 the RBA sent letters to each of the party leaders making the following request:

"We are asking for your promise and a confirmation response, that beginning no later than September 9, 2017, your government will negotiate in good faith with the RBA to reach an agreement under which the region will receive a meaningful share of provincial revenues generated by economic development activity in Northwest B.C."

A follow-up letter with the same request was sent on May 1, 2017. No responses have been received to date.

Written responses from candidates to date are posted on the RBA website https://www.nwresourcebenefits.ca/resources-nbc-rba. While the response from the four NDP candidates expresses strong support, including support for beginning negotiations, it is not yet clear that NDP leader John Horgan has personally committed his support or agreed to start negotiations by September 9, 2017. The two letters received from Liberal candidates are even less specific in terms of commitment to start negotiations. Letters of support were also provided by a Libertarian Party candidate, the Christian Heritage Party and an independent.

Revenue sharing is needed in the Northwest because major resource projects place significant costs on local governments throughout their whole life-cycle, from the planning stage to after production stops, but most projects are outside municipal boundaries and don't pay local property tax. Even those projects which are inside municipalities also affect other regional local governments. In addition, the whole region should benefit in a tangible way from the huge amounts of wealth generated by these projects, with a regional legacy.

"Cost pressures from resource activity are already eroding services to taxpayers like police and first responders, recreation and culture, and economic development and diversification. Because demands on services have been so high, there is little left for infrastructure. This situation has existed for years with the result that services are stretched; local taxes are high; many roads are unpaved and asphalt is failing on paved roads; sewer and water systems are inadequate; and recreation facilities are lacking," says Barry Pages, RBA Vice-Chair and Chair of the North Coast Regional District.

"If revenue sharing is an important issue for you, ask your candidates where their party leader stands, and vote for candidates that can really help deliver prompt negotiations," says Mayor Phil Germuth, RBA Vice-Chair and Chair of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine.

The RBA is comprised of all 18 municipalities and three regional districts in Northwest B.C., from Masset to Vanderhoof, spanning an area of over 200,000 km2.

Background:

Media availability:

Bill Miller, RBA Chair, and Chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako
Barry Pages, RBA Vice-Chair and Chair, North Coast Regional District
Mayor Phil Germuth, RBA Vice-Chair and Chair, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine

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