Premier John Horgan announces the $100 million infrastructure grant for 22 municipalities and four regional districts in Northwest British Columbia, in Terrace on Feb. 16. Burns Lake received $3.4 million for its share, and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako received $5.8 million. (Lakes District News file photo)

Burns Lake gets $3.4 million in infrastructure grant

Burns Lake received $3.4 million at the end of March for its portion of the Northern Capital and Planning Grant.

How the funds are to be spent will be known after the village council holds its strategic planning session on April 14, mayor Dolores Funk told Lakes District News on March 27.

The $100 million grant was announced by premier John Horgan on Feb. 16 and was given to 22 municipalities and four regional districts – including Bulkley-Nechako – to meet infrastructure needs.

READ MORE: Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

RELATED: Burns Lake, RDBN welcome $100 million grant

The municipalities received $83.7 million, and the four districts $16.3 million.

Local governments with populations higher than 10,000 people received $6 million-$9 million, and municipalities with populations lower than 10,000 were given between $1 million and $6 million.

“Small communities received a larger proportional share of the grant to compensate for their reduced commercial and industrial tax base,” according to a press release from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) received $5.8 million, said Gerry Thiessen, mayor of Vanderhoof and chair of the RDBN board of directors.

“We are looking forward to discussing what we can do on infrastructure and should we be able to leverage it with another source of funding,” he added.

Fraser Lake received $2.6 million for its part of the grant, mayor Sarrah Storey said.

“We have $45 million in infrastructure deficit problems. We have concrete and sewer lines and storm drains [we have to fix] and we have to repave after that.”

Storey added that the 2019 budget has already been prepared and the $2.6 million in grant funding will be spent next year, ideally along with other grants.

“We’re happy that the province could start with that amount. We’re hoping that they might keep this going for a few years or that the Resource Benefits Alliance comes to a head where we can keep addressing our aging infrastructure because we definitely have a lot to work on. It’s difficult for small communities to address the issues with aging infrastructure,” she explained.

“We’re very thankful to premier Horgan and [Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing] Selena Robinson for listening to the municipalities…We hope that we can work with them in the future.”

The $3.4 million Burns Lake received from the planning grant, and the $577,004.85 in fiscal year distribution from Comfor Management Services are among the spending issues to be discussed at the village’s strategic planning meeting.

LOOK BACK: Burns Lake council gets $577,000 from Comfor

Funding from the federal gax tax, of which the village currently receives $144,000, will also be on the agenda, said Chief Administrative Officer Sheryl Worthing. That amount might increase for this year.

The planning sessions aren’t open to the public but they deal with the objectives outlined in the agendas of the bi-weekly council meetings.

The objectives for 2019 include strengthening the local economy, improving infrastructure, increasing the availability of housing, boosting wildfire protection, supporting recreation and cultural opportunities, and promoting advocacy and engagement with the province.

One of the aims of the Northern Capital and Planning Grant is to improve the infrastructure of the region for the expected influx of people that will accompany the construction of the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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