Saturday, February 16, 2019

Province of British Columbia announces capital grant program for Northwest communities

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice was the host as Premier John Horgan
outlined a significant funding program for Northwest communities
and their infrastructure needs across the region

Terrace was the Saturday setting for a major announcement from the Province of British Columbia which will see long standing infrastructure needs addressed with a 100 million dollar Northern Capital and Planning grant, the funding program to be shared between Four regional districts and their 22 municipalities.

Premier John Horgan introduced the program from Terrace by that acknowledging how the North has not always benefited from a fair share of the prosperity that it delivers to the rest of the province.

“The rich resources and hard-working people of the Northwest have long contributed more than their fair share to the prosperity of our province. Unfortunately the benefits of success have been slow to flow back to the region, leaving communities with aging infrastructure that does not meet their needs or the needs of industry.” ,,,   “We’re reversing this legacy of neglect with a new Northern Capital and Planning Grant that will help people and communities make the most of new opportunities, so that the benefits of resource development are felt for years to come,”

The funding comes from recent discussions with the member municipalities of the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance and also required consultation with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities in order to change regulations to implement the grant program.

From the change, small communities within the catchment areas will receive a larger proportional share of the grant to compensate for their reduced commercial and industrial tax base.

Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing  outlined some of the concerns that the province has heard and now acted on from the Northwest.

“We’ve been hearing from local governments in northern B.C. about the challenges they face funding much-needed upgrades to their aging infrastructure, and how it makes it difficult for them to make the most of growth opportunities and holds them back from diversifying their economies. ... We know this grant will not only help northern communities meet their infrastructure needs today, but it will also set them up to benefit from development opportunities in the future.”

Today's announcement was hosted by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice who observed as to how during her time as MLA one her largest frustrations has been finding the opportunities that were available and not being able to find the additional level of funding to act on them, noting how today's announcement will help to provide for a sustainable future for the residents of the Northwest.

The event at Coast Mountain College was attended by Mayors and officials from around the region, including Mayor Carol Leclerc of Terrace and Mayor Lee Brain of Prince Rupert.

Mayor Brain, who has made access to a larger pool of money from the province one of  his main talking points over the last four years, offered up some thoughts on how Prince Rupert has fared over the last ten years and the struggles that have been found to improve on infrastructure.

The Mayor observed as to how the cash injection from the province will help to take on some of those challenges.

“Each community in the North has struggled for years to improve and maintain infrastructure, services and day-to-day operations that meet the desired liveability outcomes for local residents, small businesses and industries. The Province has listened to our concerns by providing this financial injection, as it will help all our communities begin to tackle those challenges as our region becomes a globally significant national trade corridor."

Prince Rupert and Terrace can expect to receive somewhere between 6 and 9 million dollars from the program towards their needs, while Regional District's will receive anywhere from 1 to 6 million dollars.

The full speech from the Premier from Saturday's announcement can be reviewed below.

The notes from the Province on the program can be found here.

For more items of note related to the Provincial government see our Legislature archive page here.

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