Negotiations for the new Peace River Fair Share Funding Agreement resumed in early May, after the province modified its earlier position, and broadened its framework to a level which Fort St. John and Taylor felt they could work within.
“It’s in the hands of the provincial government now,” said Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead. “I still haven’t heard anything, on what the status is, but I’m sure the government will be making an announcement soon.”
The Provincial Government sought to break an existing 15-year deal, signed in 2005, in order to address its falling revenues, following the down turn in the oil and gas industry. The government wanted to negotiate a new 15-year deal, with more affordable terms, and an expiration date of 2030. However, communities in the region, most notably Fort St. John and Taylor objected to the proposed changes as it would mean a $6 million reduction revenue for 2015, and a further potential reduction of $70 million by 2019.
Fair Share was created in 1998, initially to provide funds for infrastructure renewal in the Peace River Regional District, for a period of 10 years. Thanks to the commitment on the part of the provincial government to the needs of communities in BC’s northeast, Fair Share continues to bridge the gap between the economic benefits of having access to the industrial tax base when it’s located outside municipal boundaries but is still putting a strain on local policing, water, sewer, roads and hospitals.