From left, front row: Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen, Smithers mayor Taylor Bachrach, Northcoast MLA Jennifer Rice, Mackenzie mayor Joan Atkinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson, Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc and Prince Rupert mayor Lee Brain. From left, back row: Houston mayor , B.C. Premier John Horgan, Kitsumkalum Vernon Dudoward and Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth. The northern mayors were in Terrace Feb. 22 for the province’s $100 million infrastructure grant announcement. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Benefits alliance to pursue annual revenue stream

And boosted by initial $100 million grant

Buoyed by a $100 million provincial grant for northern local governments announced last month, the Northwest BC Regional Benefits Alliance is continuing its longstanding goal of an annual revenue stream.

“It was a surprise, a great surprise. It was a great day, no doubt,” says District of Houston mayor Shane Brienen of the grant announcement made Feb. 16 in Terrace by Premier John Horgan.

The $100 million is to be divided up between four northern B.C. regional districts and 18 municipal governments for infrastructure projects or to be used to as the local government portion in applying for additional senior government capital project grants.

READ MORE: City of Terrace reacts to $8 million provincial infrastructure grant

Brienen has now been named a co-chair of the benefits alliance along with Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine director and City of Terrace councillor Sean Bujtas.

In that capacity, Brienen and Bujtas will be guiding the alliance’s long-standing efforts for an annual revenue stream from the provincial government.

Formed in 2014 and now with a local government membership stretching from Vanderhoof to Masset on Haida Gwaii, the benefits alliance has been arguing for a greater share of the taxation revenues the province collects from regional resource industries.

The alliance further says local governments often have to supply and maintain services while not receiving a share of the provincial revenues in return.

Brienen said there’s a critical need for money for local governments to replace aging infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer facilities.

“Many of the municipalities have infrastructure approaching 50 years of age and are at the end of their lifecycle,” he noted.

“What we’ll be doing now is working with the provincial government to put a plan in place,” Brienen said of the goal of an annual revenue stream.

Such an effort is not unique in B.C. — northeastern local governments for years have benefitted from the province supplying money obtained from taxing the oil and gas industry.

Brienen said an annual revenue stream to bolster municipal services is also crucial for those municipalities to grow and prosper.

READ MORE: MLA presses province on regional benefits alliance

“What we’re looking for are the same opportunities as in other areas of the province. Attraction and retention of people is a huge issue,” he said.

“We want our communities to be able to get people working.”

The $100 million is to be forwarded to local governments by the end of March and while they are free to spend it as they see fit, how it is spent must be reported.

Brienen met with other members of the alliance in Terrace Feb. 22 to work on future plans.

Money for the alliance’s work comes from its member local governments but it also received $300,000 from the province last year to further its goals.

The Terrace meeting also discussed the prospect of hiring a project manager to partially replace the need for hiring consultants.

Just Posted

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

First Terrace Speedway race day of the year

The annual Mother’s Day Season Opening Races brought in crowds

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

Northwest Fire Centre open burn ban lifted

Recent rain, cooler temperatures have lowered the region’s fire risk

Telkwa pot plant application passes review

Cannabis company claims new Health Canada regulations are working in its favour

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

Most Read