FULL marks to the Skeena-Nass Center for Innovation in Resource Economics (SNCIRE), a local think tank, for starting the conversation about the impact on communities of industrial development.
Not only does SNCIRE correctly point out that training and job preparation is needed for the people who now live here but that a growth in population as people from outside move into the area for work will put a strain on local services.
The trouble is that development will take place outside of municipal jurisdiction, meaning local governments cannot levy taxes to cover some of the resulting costs.
There is precedent for a solution. The province now pays the Kitimat-Stikine and Bulkley-Nechako regional districts approximately $1 million each year as a grant in lieu of taxes from Rio Tinto Alcan’s Kemano hydro generating facilities.
In northeastern B.C., the province pays at least $20 million a year to local governments there in recognition of oil and gas developments outside their jurisdiction.
Already in the northwest the Tahltan are adroitly lining up a series of socio-economic deals tied to industrial development on their traditional territory.
If there is no concerted and coordinated effort, local governments could find themselves and their citizens far behind on sharing the benefits of what promises to be a promising future for the region.