Building on the economic benefits and jobs created by getting to yes on major projects and provincial investments in infrastructure, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson today announced immediate investments and a long-term action plan outlined in B.C.’s rural economic development strategy that will create jobs and economic opportunities in Campbell River.
Building on our Rural Advantages: B.C.’s Rural Economic Development Strategy outlines the Province’s three-pronged approach to build, strengthen, and diversify rural communities. These investments are expected to support up to 26,600 direct and indirect jobs with an overall impact of $2.8 billion to provincial GDP. Targeted initiatives include $40 million to expand and enhance high-speed Internet and an extension of the $25-million Rural Dividend Fund to reinvigorate and diversify more local economies. These will ensure British Columbians in all regions of the province have the opportunity for good-paying jobs and a high quality of life in their community.
To strengthen the Province’s commitment to supporting rural communities and in recognition of the unique challenges and opportunities they face, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett was recently appointed Minister of State for Rural Economic Development. Building on our Rural Advantages delivers on a key priority in the minister of state’s mandate letter.
With the release of Building on our Rural Advantages, the Province is also making targeted investments that will benefit rural communities throughout B.C., including Campbell River:
- $15 million over three years for trades equipment in B.C. secondary schools so students can explore the trades earlier in their education, including $716,400 in Campbell River.
- $7.5 million over three years to upgrade BC Wildfire Service facilities throughout the province, including the Quinsam fire base, creating jobs and improving safety in rural communities.
- More than $871,700 under the Rural Dividend Fund for projects in six communities, including:
- $500,000 for the Regional District of Mount Waddington to develop a strategic economic development plan to create jobs in the forestry sector,
- $100,000 for the Nanwakolas Council Society to deliver job readiness and skills training to youth,
- $91,720 for the Village of Zeballos to develop local trails,
- $90,000 for the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation to hire and train local workers and develop an overnight accommodation business in Kingcome Village,
- $80,000 for the Village of Port Alice to support the redevelopment, expansion, and increased services for a campground, and
- $10,000 for Port McNeill Kids in Motion Society to develop a summer camp geared for local youth with a focus on physical activity, health, and nutrition.
The rural strategy is a key commitment of the 5-Year Jobs Plan Update, which recognized the need for focused action to support rural communities. The new targeted actions outlined in the strategy build on the significant investments in Balanced Budget 2017 and respond to what government heard directly from British Columbians living in rural communities. To that end, the strategy includes immediate investments that will lay the foundation for economic diversification in rural B.C.:
- A significant $40 million investment to extend high-speed Internet access to rural and remote B.C. communities, bringing faster broadband speeds that will create new economic opportunities and lay the foundation for new investment and jobs in B.C.’s burgeoning tech industry.
- Extending the $25 million per-year Rural Dividend Fund for a fourth year to support the strength and sustainability of small rural communities.
- $150 million for the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia to plant tens of millions more trees, which will help fight climate change and create over 3,000 jobs in rural British Columbia.
- Begin phasing out provincial sales tax on electricity purchases by reducing it to 3.5 per cent on Oct. 1, 2017, and eliminating it by April 1, 2019. This will improve business competitiveness and economic performance, especially for resource industries that are key to rural B.C. such as commercial agriculture, forestry and mining.
- Reduce the small business tax rate to 2% from 2.5%, effective April 2017, which means B.C. will have the second-lowest small business tax in Canada.
Premier Christy Clark –
“B.C.’s rural economies and natural resource industries are at the backbone of our economy, and are shouldering the risk posed by the global downturn in commodity prices. These challenges require immediate action to support our rural communities and a long-term plan that builds on our rural advantages to create jobs and diversify our economy.”
Donna Barnett, Minister of State for Rural Economic Development –
“Creating the conditions for rural British Columbia to grow and thrive is a key priority for our government. Building on our Rural Advantages gives rural British Columbians the tools to shape their own future, and reflects the importance we place on the workers, families and businesses who reside in in the rural areas of the province.”
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson –
“Building on our Rural Advantages shows our government is listening to the concerns of rural communities like Campbell River. Innovation and improving our competitiveness are critical to growing new sectors of rural economies – that’s why we are continuing to take action to help rural communities reinvigorate and diversify their local economies.”
Jonathan Lok, Rural Advisory Council member –
“I’ve spent most of my life in rural British Columbia and I’ve been proud to share my perspective as part of the Rural Advisory Council. I’m excited to see the government’s continued commitment to recognizing the importance of our smaller communities. The creation of this rural economic development blueprint helps guide strategic investments which connect people, improve the health of our communities and environment, and stimulate business activity. These are meaningful initiatives that will make a difference for all of us in rural B.C.”
Andy Adams, mayor of Campbell River -
“As mayor of a resource dependent community, I welcome the investments government is making in trades training for our young people and the investment in North Island College's Campbell River campus, which will attract more young people to our community.”
Merv Child, president of the Nanwakolas Council -
“The $100,000 in Rural Dividend funding is important to the Nanwakolas Council member First Nations, since it will allow for the continued implementation of the Nanwakolas Employment and Training Strategy for unemployed and underemployed youth and other community members.”
- The Province will invest $3.6 billion in economic development activities targeted at rural communities in 2016/17. These investments support key initiatives including capital investments, improving connectivity and transportation infrastructure, providing close-to-home skills training, increasing economic competitiveness, attracting new investment, expanding opportunities for youth, and partnering with Aboriginal communities.
- The Province invests over $2.2 billion each year in total skills training and education for rural areas across B.C.
- As of March 2017, the Rural Dividend Fund has provided communities of less than 25,000 residents with nearly $24 million to reinvigorate and diversify local economies.
To find out more about the BC Rural Economic Development Strategy, visit: https://bcjobsplan.gov.bc.ca/b-c-s-rural-economic-development-strategy/
To find out more about the BC Jobs Plan, visit: engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan
To find out more about Balanced Budget 2017, visit: bcbudget.ca
To find out more information about the #BCTech Strategy, visit: bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca
To find out more about career planning and B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, visit: workbc.ca/blueprintbuilder
To find out more about the BC Rural Advisory Council, visit: gov.bc.ca/ruraladvisorycouncil
A backgrounder follows.