The Northwest British Columbia Regional Benefits Alliance (RBA) seeks a agreement with the province to ensure the region benefits from its strong economic development. (Submitted photo)

Regional Benefits Alliance leadership takes shape

The Northwest British Columbia Regional Benefits Alliance (RBA) is in the final stages of appointing its leadership.

Though not yet formally in place, Houston mayor Shane Brienen, Prince Rupert mayor Lee Brain and Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS) director Sean Bujtas are expected to be the RBA’s new co-chairs.

Bujtas is also a councillor with the City of Terrace.

The new co-chair structure replaces the previous one where there was a chair and two vice-chairs.

Bill Miller was chairman from 2015-2018 and the former vice-chairs were Barry Pages of the North Coast Regional District and Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth.

Speaking to Lakes District News, Brienen said it was too early to specify the alliance’s strategy for the new year as its plans are still being determined.

But its outlook remains the same, “The whole idea behind the RBA is to make our communities more livable and encourage growth. We see too many communities falling apart in the northwest,” he said.

Brienen added that the $300,000 that the province granted to the RBA last April following its request helped support the alliance with legal work and other tasks as part of its goal to boost economic development in the northwest.

The association has been in talks with the province since 2017 on a resource benefits sharing agreement, for which talks are ongoing, Brienen said.

READ MORE: Northwest B.C. shared revenue talks continue

The RBA was formed in 2014 and comprises all 21 local governments – including municipalities – from Masset to Vanderhoof in northwestern B.C.

It aims to settle a funding agreement with the province to ensure the region benefits from the strong economic development of the area.

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