The Northwest Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA) has put forth an intriguing challenge to the provincial government, currently seeking input on its Rural Development Strategy. Responding to a call for recommendations, the RBA pointed out they’ve been working on the issue for many years, plainly suggesting Victoria use their proposal for resource revenue sharing as a pilot project for the rest of the province.
“Essentially what we’re saying is, ‘let’s get on with the negotiation,” said Bill Miller, RBA chair and chair of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. “We want to sit down and develop a model that works, primarily for our region and our communities, but they can use that as a pilot and then adjust it for other places in the province.”
The RBA consists of 18 communities and three regional districts seeking a share of government revenue from future resource developments. The alliance says it will help transform a “have-not region” into one reaching its full potential.
RBAs members sat down with members of the new NDP government and Premier John Horgan in August last year, calling the meeting an “overwhelming reaffirmation” of the NDP’s promise to negotiate a fair share of resource revenues with the region.
The RBA will raise the issue again in a scheduled meeting with the premier during an upcoming visit to Kitimat.
“He did give us affirmation before…but we need to keep the pressure on,” Miller said. “It’s vital to develop a strategy that takes the needs and circumstances of different rural regions into account.”
The recommendation of a pilot project was one of six the RBA put forward to Victoria. The primary concerns were that any strategy includes adequate research and a flexible framework on varying regional conditions, with a focus on translating economic activity back into the communities. The RBA also encouraged the province to work closely with regional groups like theirs to formulate workable governance models.