Burns Lake council had a chance to see the preliminary draft of the Hwy. 16 action plan’s operating costs last week.
One-third of the operating costs – estimated at $145,585 per year – will be split between the communities involved in the plan.
If all First Nations groups contribute toward the plan, Burns Lake would contribute approximately $9000 per year. However, that number could change since it is still unclear which First Nations groups will be a part of the plan.
Last month, Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach and Bill Miller, Director of Electoral Area B, committed to personally presenting the costs of the Hwy. 16 action plan to First Nations councils across the regional district.
“Part of the issue is that if you don’t know how many players, you don’t know the dollar value,” said Miller.
During last week’s council meeting, Burns Lake council committed to a maximum contribution of $12,500 per year toward the plan.
When asked what would be the tax increase to accommodate the $12,500 cost, Sheryl Worthing, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Burns Lake, said the increase would be of “just over one per cent.”
However, council did not indicate that there would be a tax increase.
“They could decide to cut expenses in another area of the budget,” said Worthing. “This will be determined when we start budget deliberations in January 2017.”
The preliminary draft of the Hwy. 16 action plan’s costs is based on the population size of each community. Therefore, bigger communities are expected to pay more for the plan.
Smithers, for example, is expected to pay over $24,500; Vanderhoof would pay $22,460 and Houston would pay $15,600.
The provincial government will covering 100 per cent of the capital costs and two-thirds of the operating costs of the Hwy. 16 action plan. In other transportation systems across B.C., the province usually pays only 50 per cent of the operating costs.
In addition, revenue from fares will be used to offset some of the operating costs by local governments.
The Hwy. 16 action plan is a $5 million plan that will have buses connecting communities across the Hwy. 16 corridor – between Prince Rupert and Prince George. A $5 fare will be charged for each segment such as Burns Lake to Smithers or Burns Lake to Prince George.
The first buses are expected to start operating by December 2016.