Agreement will provide annual payments of $50 million to communities starting next year.
June 2, 2015
by The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — Premier Christy Clark says a renewed 20-year Peace River Agreement provides annual payments totalling $1.1 billion to resource-rich communities in BC’s northeast.
Clark announced the deal May 29 in Dawson Creek flanked by local politicians from Peace-region communities, including Taylor, Chetwynd and Pouce Coupe.
Community leaders had complained earlier this year about the government’s plans to cap annual grants they had been receiving.
Many of the communities are rural, with limited tax bases. Since 2005, a memorandum of understanding known locally as the Fair Share agreement has provided infrastructure funds to the communities from the government.
Clark said the renewed agreement will provide annual payments of $50 million to communities starting next year, with payments gradually increasing until the deal expires in 2035. The premier said there is also a signing bonus of $3 million to share.
The communities received $46 million this year. The grant payments were growing at about 8.7% annually, now the government has set that at 2%, which reflects the rate of annual economic growth.
Clark said the renewed agreement is in the best interests of the area and BC.
“We can’t take all of the resources out of communities like this and not leave more of it here,” she said. “That’s what fair share has always been about from the very beginning.”
Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead, who described the negotiations as tough, said he could barely contain his enthusiasm about the renewed agreement.
“When I got elected (as mayor) I was just over the moon about getting elected, and that day, with my grandbabies in attendance, I said I was pee-your-pants happy over being elected as the mayor, and today matches that day,” he said.
© 2015 The Canadian Press