Local government leaders in the Peace River and the Province have signed a new Peace River Agreement, announced Premier Christy Clark and Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and MLA’s Mike Bernier and Pat Pimm.
This agreement has been achieved through negotiated agreement with the consent of all local governments in the region, and is valued at over $1.1 billion over the next 20 years.
The new agreement will provide a permanent framework for municipalities and rural areas to plan for future needs and provide financial stability and certainty to residents of the region by providing to the local governments annual payments that recognize the lack of access to the industrial tax base in rural, unincorporated areas. These payments will ensure these local governments can continue to make the critical investments in local services and infrastructure over the coming years to maintain the region as a growing service sector for industry, including natural gas.
Key features of the new agreement will include:
- Annual payments that start at a base of $50 million in 2016, and after 2020, will increase at an agreed annual rate for growth, through to at least 2035;
- Opportunities to re-open the annual rate of growth of the payment in both 2023 and 2031, as well as renegotiate a new base and annual rate of growth to take effect after 2035;
- New eligibility, reporting and approval requirements to improve accountability to taxpayers; and
- New provisions to support provincial-regional relationship-building through a new Partnership Committee.
Signatories will receive an additional $3 million in 2015 as a special one-time payment for approval of the agreement, building on the $46 million already paid on April 30, 2015, under the previous agreement. One million dollars will also be provided to the Peace River Regional District this year to support the work of the Partnership Committee over the coming years.
Premier Christy Clark —
“Northeast communities play a fundamental role in growing B.C.’s diverse economy. That is why we’re committed to making sure the region gets the long-term benefits of this growth in a way that provides certainty and stability. I want to thank local leaders for their vision and commitment to an agreement that works not only in the best interests of Peace River residents, but all of British Columbia’s taxpayers, for at least the next 20 years.”
Mike Bernier, MLA Peace River South —
“Our government recognizes the value of this agreement to Peace River municipalities, which will help local governments fund the infrastructure needed to support growth related to the industrial development taking place.”
Pat Pimm, MLA for Peace River North —
“The Peace Country continues to contribute substantially to B.C.'s prosperous economy. This agreement will allow communities to continue to build the infrastructure required to support the growing Industry. This agreement will provide some certainty for the communities for the next many years, and has re-opener clauses if we find the needs rise to much higher levels.”
Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development —
“This agreement will provide communities with the stability to more effectively plan for the future so they can provide the services and infrastructure necessary to support the region without burdening local taxpayers. I look forward to a renewed relationship between the Province and the region that will build upon this agreement and work towards a shared commitment to economic growth that benefits citizens across the province.”
Merlin Nichols, mayor, Chetwynd —
“Previous versions of this agreement have been part of Chetwynd’s capital budgeting process for years, and the district has used the funds for a number of crucial infrastructure projects that make Chetwynd a stronger contributor to the Provincial economy. Chetwynd extends congratulations to all of the parties who participated in this negotiation, to bring it to a successful conclusion, and for creating a perpetual economic resource for local governments in the Peace Region future generations.”
Dale Bumstead, mayor, Dawson Creek —
“The City of Dawson Creek is very thankful to see a new agreement in place to ensure that long-term planning can occur to allow us to build a healthy, vibrant community. The ability to meet the needs of our community, as we face anticipated growth from resource development, is critical to ensure we provide a healthy community where families can live and prosper.”
Lori Ackerman, mayor, Fort St. John and chair, Peace River Regional District —
"As the region is unique with respect to limited access to the industrial property tax base, this agreement provides funding security for the next 25 years that will bring additional capacity to our municipalities and rural areas to address historical infrastructure deficits and make investment decisions related to future growth. I look forward to working with the Province as chair of the Peace River Regional District and mayor of the City of Fort St. John to ensure we continue to develop those linkages to unincorporated industrial growth and invest in legacies for our communities. In addition, the Fort St. John council welcomes the special 2015 payment, and looks forward to a conversation with the community on the development of a legacy project."
William Plowright, mayor, Pouce Coupe —
“On behalf of the Village of Pouce Coupe Council, residents, and staff, we would like to express our appreciation to the Premier and her staff, for honouring her commitment to not only extend the agreement, but to create permanent funding to strengthen the Peace Region.”
Rob Fraser, mayor, Taylor —
“The District of Taylor has resolved to become a signatory of the new Peace River Agreement. After considerable debate, the council concluded that the new agreement provides a degree certainty that will assist the district in supporting current industrial growth rates. Council also felt that it is important to maintain positive relationships with the other signatories and the Province. The District of Taylor will work diligently with all parties to provide clarity on new clauses within the new agreement.”
Don McPherson, mayor, Tumbler Ridge —
"Tumbler Ridge has certainly benefited through earlier versions of this agreement, particularly in times of economic struggle in our community. We sincerely appreciate the continued steps taken by our provincial government and our regional partners in support of this agreement. The commitments made will continue to support the economic certainty of our region. These commitments will also strengthen our capacity for proactive and effective reinforcement and expansion of our municipal infrastructure."
Office of Premier Christy Clark
Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development