Friday, February 23, 2024

"Game Changer for all our communities" ... Mayor Herb Pond on NWBCRBA success from Thursday

The Co-Chairs of the Northwest British Columbia Resource Benefits Association have been on cloud nine since about 1:30 Thursday afternoon. 

Their euphoria coming shortly after Finance Minister Katrine Conroy announced that their long sought after quest for a return of some of the resource money that leaves the Northwest had been successful, with the funding to come to be used for infrastructure projects.

As we outlined yesterday, as part of the 2024 Budget the BC NDP government announced 250 million dollars in funding over five years for the 21 member communities of the BCNWRBA, an initiative that goes back a decade and spanned three Premiers before finally reaching the finish line.

As soon as the Finance Minister had wrapped up her financial blueprint for the year ahead, the celebrations were on, with social media posts leading the way from the three co chairs, regional MLA's, along with a shout out from the Federal MP.

Terrace Mayor Sean Bujtas noted of the success by way of a video presentation for Terrace residents posted to his social media stream.

Stikine MLA and BC Cabinet Minister Nathan Cullen also hailed the announcement as part of a video presentation.

The official statement came later in the day, with the three co-chairs providing for their talking points to herald the success of their travels to Victoria.

For Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond the focus was on how the financial boost would be a game changer for the collective.

"This funding is a gamechanger for all our communities. It allows us to fix, replace and build basic infrastructure that all our communities rely on. Now we can invest in our communities without the heavy financial burden being placed on our residents."

The two other co-chairs Mayor Sean Bujtas of Terrace and Smithers Mayor Gladys Attril also noted of the work of a regional team past and present who put in  the work over the last decade.

Official Announcement from NWBCRBA from February 22
click to enlarge 

The path to Thursday's announcement covered more than ten years of lobbying by municipal and regional leaders, the roster of participants changing from year to year. 

And while the names of the co-chairs and directors might change, the mission and message for the collective remained the same.

The work on the program one that spanned three Premierships, Christy Clark,  John Horgan and now David Eby, the current Premier who now serves as the deal maker.

Prince Rupert's initial indication of interest in the concept came just prior to the 20214 election with then Mayor Jack Mussallem noting of some interest by Prince Rupert City Council in the initiative.

The first introduction to the project on the regional scale came at a mid October Council session, when advocates from the Regional District of Ktiimat-Stikine came to Prince Rupert to make the pitch.

Most of the heavy lifting locally for the initiative however,  was that of former Mayor Lee Brain, who once in office following the election that year became one of the loudest and most passionate advocates for the program. 

It was former Mayor Brain who in January of 2015 announced the Memorandum of Understanding that put Prince Rupert on the team for the Northwest in the pursuit of more benefits from the resources taken from the Northwest.

As for the path forward for much of that process, it was mostly that of closed discussions, with little  in the way of public overview through the council sessions.

That was a blue print that was followed for much of the ten year process, the mentions of the NWBCRBA were infrequent, as were updates on its progress.  

When the topic was discussed it was for the most part an element of the dialogue that came up as Council worked on Budget proposals year after year.

The NWBCRBA a Holy Grail of sorts that if achieved would  provide some additional help to the community struggling under its many infrastructure challenges.  

With the news that the funding had finally been secured, the former Mayor delivered a short note to his social media stream to hail the achievement and offer congratulations to those on hand for the announcement.

Towards the future for the funding to come.  

The details have yet to be outlined  by the co chairs as to how the 250 million dollars over five years for 21 member communities will be distributed.

Also not released as of yet is a date towards when that funding program will begin to see money delivered to City, town and Village halls across the Northwest.

You can follow this  NWBCRBA website and social media stream for updates as the weeks move forward.

For a full review of the initiative from its very early days you can explore our archive page here


  1. Great news. I was on Port Edward council when this alliance was formed and it was something that all communities were 100 percent on board with. Congrats to all involved and thank you to all that have helped along the way.

    Grant Moore

  2. But wait… this blog and its anonymous commenters assured us that this was just a pie in the sky idea and a waste of time and money.

    We were told it was not a priority because it was unlikely.

    We were fed the line that they should focus on fixing roads and sewers first.

    Luckily now we have an extra $250 million to get stuff done!

    1. I imagine you have all the pull quotes to support all of the observations you note above ...

      Mostly I remember noting that much of the discussion of the RBA was taking place outside the view of the public and with few updates for it, other than the work continues as it seemingly did.

      Looking forward to how the plan to divide up the funding over the five years for all the communities signed on. NCR

    2. Over a decade to secure five years of funding at $250M. Which works out to $50M per year split between 21 northern municipalities over the next five years, with no funding split, and no guarantee past that term.
      While this is good news, it isn't great news.
      This exposes how inefficient government is when distributing our taxes to municipal infrastructure. Also, the amount of time it has taken to come to this arrangement has actually diminished the impact of the funding. We have all seen inflation at work, money doesn't go as far as it once did. Especially on capital infrastructure projects.
      Councils across the north will of course take their victory laps and pat themselves on the backs. But five years comes pretty quick so planning should start to ensure 2030 funding contingencies are in place should this funding not continue.

  3. Didn’t Jack Mussallum and Barry Cunningham vote against joining this when it first came to council?

    1. No Mussallem is the one who brought it to Council for consideration, there was discussion as to whether it would impact on the city's work on PILT and Tax Caps though ... those expressed at the presentation from RBA officials in Oct 2024,

      There was no specific public debate at Council on the topic though prior to the Memorandum of Jan 2015 where the city signed on NCR

  4. Is the money coming from something specific besides just being allocated from federal taxes. I thought I saw it was from some kind of industry revenue....anyone clarify?