Thursday, February 22, 2024

250 million in funding for NWBCRBA among key notes for Northwest BC from BC NDP government's Budget 2024

The delegation of politicians from the Northwest currently in Victoria for the Provincial Government budget reveal will be coming home with some positive news on the Northwest BC Resource Benefit program. 

That following the announcement from  Finance Minister Katrine Conroy which included funding for the initiative in the presentation to the BC Legislature this afternoon.

The notes on the NWBCRBA came about two thirds of the way through her Budget Speech Thursday.

"To support economic growth and development, $250 million over five years will support the 21 local governments that make up the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance. 

These communities are primarily rural and remote with small populations, but are relied upon to support an influx of new industry and workers. 

Funding will support planning and construction of municipal infrastructure, such as roads, water sewer and other community facilities needed to create livable communities."

How they divide up that funding will be something for the NWBCRA to announce; but based on  an equal share for each member, that would come to close to 12 million for each over a timeline of five years..

Terrace Mayor Sean Bujtas was the first of the Northwest politicians to speak to the news from Victoria today, sharing his view of the scope of the announcement through his social media stream.

"We've done it folks, finally the RBA deal is in the Provincial Budget. We are going to see 250 million dollars over the next five years. That's fifty million dollars for communities in the RBA. 

We are finally going to see our share of revenues come back to our communities.  

This is a big, big win for us and it's gonna be a huge change for Terrace as we see this money filter in so we can start fixing infrastructure projects that are in high demand "-- Terrace Mayor Sean Bujtas

Also celebrating the announcement today were Northwest BC MLA's Rice and Cullen

Mayor Pond did catch up with the celebrants a bit later in the day.

One other mention of note for the Northwest, was related to the opening of Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace set for the fall of this year, that coming as part of  the Budget themes related to health care.

Also of interest for Prince Rupert residents,  the provincial government's ongoing commitment to rural internet connectivity, a project which the City of Prince Rupert owned CityWest is a key participant towards.

The budget on the afternoon was one to chart the NDP government's path forward towards a fall election rendezvous with the electorate in October. 

It is one heavy on spending when it comes towards Housing, Health care and education. 

The presentation one that put the BC NDP narrative of helping people with everyday costs at the forefront of their plan, along with their ongoing focus on creating more affordable housing.

From those plans however comes what will be a record deficit of 7.9 billion dollars for 2024-25, which follows the deficit for this year of th 5.9 billion dollar deficit for this current fiscal period of 2023-24.

The level of debt not seemingly of much concern to the government; with the finance minister observing how the BC NDP bellies that BC has one of the most affordable debts in the country.


Backgrounder information on today's Budget Speech

Some further background on the Budget can be explored from the information statement issued following the Finance Minister's Speech from the Legislature.

The Finance Ministry has also provided for some additional material to review related to their financial plan for the year ahead, all of those elements can be found here.

The BC United started off the response to the Budget Speech following today's presentation, not surprisingly they found much to fault with it, an opening salvo that should set the tone for next week when the full Budget speech debate will take place.

For the Northwest the news of success for the Resource Benefit Alliance plans will likely make for much of the discussion to come, you can review some of the history to the project and follow along as it evolves through our archive page.

For more notes from the Legislature see our archive page here.

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