Editorial: Rural divide

The majority of B.C.'s wealth is generated by resource development in rural areas – so where is our fair share?

“WHILE the majority of the province’s population is in urban centres, the majority of wealth is generated by resource development in rural areas.”

Forests minister Steve Thomson could not have been more right when he uttered those words last September in announcing the framework for a council to advise the province on rural issues.

From logging to mining to oil and gas, vast streams of revenue flow from rural areas to support the increasingly densely populated southern areas of the province. The Rio Tinto Alcan smelter at Kitimat, for instance, is the largest single contributor to the provincial economy

And what comes back in return?

Not terribly much, it seems.

Premier Christy Clark during the 2013 provincial election promised to create something called the rural dividend, tossing out the figure of $25 million annually beginning this year.

Pushing through the rural dividend is one of the jobs of Mr. Thomson’s rural advisory council. He’s even gone so far as to call for an “equitable share in the economic benefits generated from resource-based industries.”

Rural British Columbians should only have the best of wishes for Mr. Thomson and his rural council.

If the premier’s $25 million is to be considered “equitable,” Mr. Thomson and his council have a long, long road to travel.