REPORTING · 2nd August 2014
An agreement for the revenue sharing within the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine was signed in Terrace on Tuesday, July 29th. From Kitimat, Mayor Joanne Monaghan, Councillor Phil Germuth and Councillor Mary Murphy were present.
“We are a series of local governments coming together to sign a Resource Benefit Alliance, what the Premier referred to as the Rural Dividend in her election campaign,” said Doctor Bruce Bidgood, Chair of the Regional District and the newly formed Resource Benefits Alliance.
This alliance does not initiate a revenue sharing program with the province but will initiate the negotiations and discussions which were promised by Premier Christy Clark during the 2013 Provincial elections.
Bidgood stated this was a landmark day and the agreement would be an invitation to the province to work with them for the benefit of working for the local communities and the People of BC prior to the documents being signed.
“What we are looking for is an equitable share of the revenues generated from new economic activity in our area,” said Bidgood. “It will be very exciting for our communities and allow us to address many of the historical deficits that we’ve had in terms of infrastructure and services. It will also allow us to circumvent the boom and bust cycles that we’ve had to date.”
A news release issued stated the province is expecting to get 100 billion dollars from the LNG Sector. A 3% share would net 3 billion dollars for the region.
Mayor Dave Pernarowski of Terrace stated the moment was important for the area and the region. “We have been working very hard over the years to get to a point where revenue sharing would be a reality in Northwest British Columbia. I know the City of Terrace has worked tirelessly on this particular file and it’s nice to be in a position where we’re here, we’re together collaborating not only locally with our regional communities but with the Provincial Government and I know they would be as excited as we are to come to the table now. We’re ready to go and we need to get started on moving this conversation forward,” said Pernarowski.
Alice Maitland thanked terrace and the Regional District for getting this together. She stated the booms tend to fall flat and leave us without money, jobs and much more. She said it would be great to have money in the bank and be able to go for help from the government for dealing with social problems.
Monaghan thanked everyone who worked hard on it. “I was a part of the fair share that we did in North Eastern BC when I was president of the UBCM for two years. I was always saying, why don’t we do that in the Northwest,” said Monaghan.
She thanked everyone for working together and anticipated the leaders making up their lists of what they want to do with the money.
Linda Pierre expressed there were a lot of social needs in the communities of the Northwest which need to be addressed. She represents a variety of communities who do not receive an equitable share for their land.
“We want to see every community in the Northwest better off than they were before, after this industrial development has taken place.
Currently, the Resource Benefits Alliance is reaching out to Prince Rupert, Port Edward and the First Nation communities to become non-inaugural signators to the alliance, although they planned to keep it to one region originally.
Bidgood expressed they expect revenue sharing to be a reality for a while as the process is expected to take several years while final investment decisions are made and revenue from industrial projects come on line.
“It will be a combination of upfront investments and waiting for some other moneys to become available as revenues come on stream as well,” said Bidgood.
The province has invested a small amount of money up front to assist these communities in the meantime. The need for money in advance was explained by Councillor Phil Germuth.
“Any industry, of course, wants to attract the best workers for the community. You are not going to have too good a time attracting those workers if your streets are falling apart, your sidewalks and your sewers are in disarray. Having the early access part allows you, before the industry is there, providing that tax revenue to actually help build your communities from the provinces funds before the industries are set up,” said Germuth.
The Alliance has not decided which industries are in and which are out. Bidgood stated that Premier Clark is focused on the LNG industries. The Alliance is looking at the demands from multiple types of industries rather than just one. Bidgood explained they want to cast their net wide before discussing what is reasonable with the province and what is not.
The money will coming from taxes on the industries. If the local government’s ability to tax industries is capped, these negotiations should be able to negate the negative effect. Bidgood said they would resist caps placed on the revenue agreement and are not willing to trade off the ability of local governments levy taxes on industrial assessments.
“The group is very much opposed to having the government put in a municipal tax cap,” said Germuth. However having said that, we can’t stop them from doing it. One of the primary objectives of the group would be to make the community whole by, the first part of the revenues would be to make that community back to where they would have been before the provincial tax cap so it shouldn’t affect us.”
counting chickens before they hatch
Comment by Vern on 5th August 2014
Talk of revenue sharing is good to get set up but we first need to ensure there is revenue to share. I fear the timeline for LNG to be up and running is currently too long and we could easily lose out to others who are already building. We need to push and get our plants up and running quickly.