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The provincial government has now formally agreed to look into the municipality’s infrastructure needs, as well as how they might be funded in the future. Minister of Energy and Mines Rich Coleman says this type of agreement is important in ensuring the area can handle the potential growth of the natural gas industry.

“The expansion of the oil and gas industry in northeast B.C. benefits the entire province by strengthening our economy and creating vital jobs for B.C. families,” he explains. “It’s important for us to ensure that the communities hosting this industry are able to sustain the associated  population growth and demand for services.”

NRRM Mayor Bill Streeper says this helps the municipality’s concerns that property taxes alone may not be able to meet the growing need for housing, as well as the development of industrial services. It’s also argued that a lot of the deterioration of infrastructure is created by non-taxpayers.

“If you look at an oil company in particular moving something heavy over your municipal roads it just goes in and out,” Streeper argues, “but your roads take the bear of it, and when it’s time to fix the road it’s the person living in the house, the taxpayer, who’s paying for it.”

The agreement gets the wheels in motion for the NRRM to start receiving fair share from the province, but the amount has not yet been decided on. Streeper says that since the MOU was agreed upon at the end of May, he has already had three meetings with the government. Negotiations must be finished by the end of October, a schedule he says was laid out by Premier Christy Clark herself.

“It recognizes that the provincial government is behind the gas industry and believes in the development of the communities that are in the gas industry to make more prosperous,” Streeper believes.

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