Local municipalities found out last Friday (March 3) how much they will receive from the Province’s dispersement of $1 billion of its projected $6 billion surplus to the 188 municipalities and regional districts across the province.
The Town of Smithers will receive $2.32 million in a one-time funding boost from the B.C. government to the town budget to fund capital projects.
Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill was very pleased with the announcement, but said there are no plans yet for using it.
“It hasn’t come before council and I’m sure by the time we meet staff will have some recommendations,” she said.
“I don’t know where it will go… and the things that we could spend money on far outweigh $2.3 million, but it’s nice, to get some money that — it’s not that it has no circles around it — but it can be used, as I understand it, for anything that you call infrastructure.”
The Village of Telkwa is receiving $1.16 million.
Village staff and Mayor Leroy Dekens are excited about the funds, but also have not yet decided how they will spend them.
“We will be having a council meeting to discuss the monies, and where they would be best used for the entire village of Telkwa,” said Dekens.
The distribution formula included an initial $500,000 per community with further adjustments for population size and per-capita growth between 2016 to 2021 based on B.C. stats data.
This method considers the impacts of service and amenity demands on smaller and rural communities and the additional pressures experienced by faster-growing communities, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs stated in a press release.
“People in rural B.C. are proud of their communities and the resources they have to offer. I’m pleased our government is supporting rural communities as they continue to grow, and that people will have access to the infrastructure and services they need to thrive,” said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine.
Other local governments’ amounts include the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, $2.06 million; Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, $1.76 million; New Hazelton, $748,000; and Hazelton $634,000.
North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice pointed out this funding is not like traditional grant funding.
“The money is not grant money, so basically, has no strings attached. [This] is something I know, particularly with the small communities that I represent, they struggle with fitting their project plan into the parameters of grant funding,” Rice told Black Press Media.
It is not completely without strings, however.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs will provide further guidance to municipalities and regional districts on the use of their funds in the coming weeks, the media statement reads.
The money is expected to be in municipal coffers by the end of March.
-With files from K-J Miller and Deb Meissner