The conversation has begun over how the province will share in millions of dollars of royalties.
It didn’t take long between Premier Christy Clark saying Bill Bennett would be in the north to when he actually materialized.
The Community, Sport and Cultural Development minister toured northern communities, including a stop in Kitamaat Village, to garner feedback to what local governments want to see from the development of liquefied natural gas facilities in the north.
But that conversation includes a financial component.
Bennett said the province is prepared to discuss a program similar to what’s already in place in the Northeast portion of the province, where a Fair Share program contributes money into local governments.
Fort St. John, for instance, receives about $20 million a year, he said.
Revenue sharing is one of the focal points of his trip, he added.
He said that natural gas provides a “tremendously positive” opportunity for northern communities.
Aside from revenue sharing he will also talk about the services a community may need facing a possible surge of hundreds or thousands of people.
“Here in Kitimat, I would expect that Mayor Monaghan and her council will tell me things I don’t know,” he said, referring to conversation in Terrace where he was made aware of some transportation issues.
“Yes there are implications that will have to be dealt with but those implications are not a reason not to do it,” he said.
He added, “Instead of waiting until [LNG] processing plans are built and we’re in the thick of it and sitting in a sort of Fort McMurray scenario, lets figure out ahead of time where the pressure points are going to be, what the priorities of the communities are, and we’ll do our best. We’re not wealthy in terms of the money we currently have to spend but we know this is a priority.”
Bennett expects to return to the Northwest again sometime in March.