At the Oct. 3, 2017 District of Houston council meeting, mayor Shane Brienen reported on the Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA) meetings.
“Things are finally moving along,” said mayor Brienen.
“Did RBA say any dates as to when they are starting and a timeline of when they want an agreement by?” asked counsellor Jonathan Van Barneveld?
“They have set some dates and timelines, there are also a number of meetings set. It is looking very positive,” said mayor Brienen.
According to the Northwest British Columbia Resource Benefits Alliance website, on Sept. 28, 2017 at the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention, leaders of the RBA met with Premier John Horgan to discuss the resources benefits sharing agreement.
It was confirmed that the premier and his senior government officials will collaborate with the RBA on the sharing agreement immediately.
“Yesterday’s meeting was unequivocally the most positive meeting we’ve had with the provincial government since the beginning of the RBA. After four years of empty promises we have finally gotten to the negotiation table,” said Bill Miller, chair of RBA. “The senior government officials understand this type of agreement will not only benefit the Northwest, but the whole province. It is a critical component to enable the northwest region to reach its true potential and contribute to the province’s economic future in a very positive way.”
Ensuring that revenues stay in the Northwest is the incentive of the RBA.
“The Premier sees that investing in the Northwest is not just about making up for lost time, but spurring growth in the region. It is an investment from which the entire province can expect a large economic return,” said Phil Germuth, co-chair of RBA.
“The John Horgan government really understands that we experience great inequity in the northwest. The Northwest is the backbone of BC, and in order to ensure our communities continue to support economic development activities that contribute to the province, we need a share of the revenues to stay in the Northwest,” he added.
The Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance is asking for a share of the provincial revenue generated over the past five years to give local governments the capacity to prepare for future development and deal with urgent infrastructure needs, a proportionate share of ongoing revenues to offset ongoing service and infrastructure costs associated with future projects, leave the region better off through significant legacy resources, and enable local government to determine how contributions under the agreement will be distributed. Within six months RBA leaders and the provincial government of B.C. hope to reach an agreement.