Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance

The Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA) is a group of 21 local governments across the Northwest from Masset to Vanderhoof, committed to achieving a resource revenue sharing agreement for the region through negotiations with the provincial government.

Over the past five years more than $13 billion has been spent on major capital projects in the region, including pipelines, transmission lines, mines, clean energy projects, port expansions, LNG plant site preparation and an aluminum smelter replacement just to name a few.  At the same time, the provincial government has earned at least $500 million in incremental revenue associated with these projects. None of this revenue has come back to the communities.

Local governments estimate that current infrastructure needs in total $600 million. Usually, local governments’ access cost-shared provincial and federal grant programs to help meet their infrastructure needs but this model does not work for everyone. Infrastructure spending by both levels of government has been significant since the 2009 recession, but the Northwest infrastructure deficit has not been reduced.

The RBA is asking the provincial government to negotiate a revenue sharing agreement with the Northwest that would provide local governments with the resources we need to properly address the infrastructure and service gaps in our communities and create a legacy for our children.  A revenue sharing agreement would make the Northwest more livable and sustainable, creating a vibrant local economy to complement and diversify the region’s resource base.

Negotiations need to start now.

For more information visit the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance website.

Fire Chief on the Move

Fire Chief Michael Navratil has tendered his resignation, to pursue other career opportunities.  He will continue to lead the Fort St. James Fire Department until the end of May, and is now actively assisting the municipality with the transition to new leadership.

Mr. Navratil began working as Fire Chief in November of 2013.  Since then he has worked diligently to develop and improve the standards of training and safety in the department.

Mayor Rob MacDougall said, “On behalf of Council, I’d like to thank Mike for the exceptional work he has done leading the Fire Department.  During his time here he has increased the base of fire fighters, improved the level of usage at the Fire Training Centre, and built up the cohesiveness and camaraderie that now exists in the department.  He will be greatly missed as a valuable member of the management team of the District.”

View full press release

Official By-Election Results

Judy Greenaway has been declared the elected Councillor in the December 10 by-election.

Official results of the by-election were announced at 9:00 a.m. on December 13, 2016.

The total votes received were as follows:

71 – Judy Greenaway
45 – Hallan Mtatiro
41 – Bev Playfair
30 – Allan Howell

Ms. Greenaway will be sworn in at the first regular Council meeting in 2017.

 

Fort St. James Feature In Business Publication

We are pleased that the District of Fort St. James is featured in the latest issue of Canadian Business Journal.  Please take a look.cbj_december2016_cover

Luck Bay Fire Protection Update

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PRESS RELEASE

May 26, 2016

The Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) reduced the Luck Bay Fire Protection Area’s status to “unprotected” as of December 15, 2015.  While this may have an impact on home insurance rates for residents in the Luck Bay area, it does not change the Fort St. James Fire Department’s commitment to responding to all incidents within its fire protection areas.

The District of Fort St. James and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako have taken several actions towards finding solutions to meet the minimum Fire Underwriter Service requirements for protected status.  We would like to inform the public of the progress made to date.

  • Fort St. James Fire Department (FSJFD) undertook an emergency intake of new recruits and a recruit course specifically for the Luck Bay area. This recruit course ended April 16th with two new recruits from the Luck Bay area completing the training.  A returning member was granted a shortened probationary period to more quickly increase the number of Fire Fighters.
  • In addition to the emergency intake, there has been a regularly scheduled FSJFD recruit course that began April 18th with one recruit from the Luck Bay area.
  • FSJFD has been working with the FUS to better understand their rating system in order to set realistic goals toward meeting their requirements for “protected” status. This is an ongoing conversation.  The Fire Underwriters’ Survey system is complex, with points given based on several criteria including; firefighter distance from home to the fire hall, distance from work to the fire hall, whether the person lives here year-round, level of training etc.
  • The Fire Chief has implemented improved communication within the department, and has kept the Chief Administrative Officer, Mayor and Council and the Regional District informed of all developments.

We have not yet been able to meet the Fire Underwriters’ Survey requirements for an improved rating. While several new members have been recruited, there have also been some resignations. At present the FSJFD has 37 active members with 7 living in the Luck Bay area. Recruitment and retention of fire fighters is a continual struggle throughout British Columbia.

We encourage Luck Bay Residents to consider joining the FSJFD.  We are particularly in need of fire fighters who are able to respond to calls in Luck Bay during daytime hours. Applications are always available at the Fort St. James District office for pick-up/drop-off.  The deadline for the next recruit intake is noon on September 2nd.

For more information please contact:

Kevin Crook, Chief Administrative Officer
District of Fort St. James
Phone: 250-996-8233
Fax: 250-996-2248
Email: cao@fortstjames.ca

Or

Deborah Jones-Middleton
Regional District of Bulkley Nechako
Phone: 1-800-320-3339
Fax: 250-692-3305
Email: deborahjm@rdbn.bc.ca

Luck Bay Fire Hall Remains Open

Media Release – 29 January 2016

A rumour that the Sowchea/Luck Bay Fire Hall may be closing is not true. The District of Fort St. James and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako would like to publicly state that there is no plan to close the Sowchea/Luck Bay Fire Hall or to discontinue fire protection services in the Sowchea/Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Services Areas.

The Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) have downgraded the Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Service Area, which is the area west of Colony Point consisting of approximately 78 residences, from a 3B to a 5 rating which is termed ‘Unprotected’. The reason the FUS downgraded the rating is due to the fire department not having enough fire fighters able to meet the FUS’s requirement for responses to incidents in the Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Service Area.

The 5 Rating may result in the residences in the Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Area experiencing an increase in property insurance rates.
The District of Fort St. James Fire Department will continue to respond to all calls in the Luck Bay Rural Fire Protection Area to the best of its ability with available resources.

At a meeting held on January 28th, District of Fort St. James Mayor and Council members and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Electoral Area ‘C’ Director met with fire fighters and local government staff to talk about solutions to meet the minimum FUS requirements for protected status in a timely manner.

These actions will include:
– An immediate intake of new recruits, in addition to the scheduled Spring intake
– Enhancement of training opportunities
– Working with the FUS to better understand their rating system in order to set realistic goals toward meeting their requirements for protected status
– Development of a plan to improve communications both inter-departmentally and with the public.

District of Fort St. James Mayor and Council and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Electoral Area ‘C’ Director will hold a public meeting, the date to be announced, once the details of these actions have been determined.

For more information please contact:
Kevin Crook, Chief Administrative Officer
District of Fort St. James
Phone: 250-996-8233
Fax: 250-996-2248

Gail Chapman, Chief Administrative Officer
Regional District of Bulkley Nechako
Phone: 1-800-320-3339
Fax: 250-692-3305
Email: district@fortstjames.ca Email: inquiries@rdbn.bc.ca

Fort St. James – Carbon Neutral Since 2013

CAC-logo2014-CN-CMYK-printCarbon Neutral_company_4CAs a Charter signatory to the Climate Action Charter, the District of Fort St. James has demonstrated its commitment to work with the Province and the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to take action on climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its corporate operations and the broader community.

We have met the goal of corporate carbon neutrality for the 2014 reporting year and have been awarded Level 3 recognition – ‘Achievement of Carbon Neutrality’ –  by the Green Communities Committee (a joint provincial/UBCM committee).  Click to view the District’s Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program report for 2014.

We’re proud to take action against climate change and be a carbon neutral local government for a second year. We have measured our total greenhouse gas emissions, reduced them as much as possible and offset the difference with Offsetters, a BC-based carbon management company.

We have chosen to invest in two different initiatives this year:

  • The Great Bear Forest Carbon Project, an Improved Forest Management project, which generates emission reductions by protecting forest areas that were previously designated, sanctioned or approved for commercial logging.
  • Selkirk Mountain/Darkwoods Project, a conservation and connectivity project.  The project area connects to existing parks and wildlife management areas to form a contiguous wilderness area of 255,000 acres (103,000 hectares). This connectivity is important for large ranging species such as Grizzly Bear and Mountain Caribou. The immense size of the project is also a perfect example of “landscape scale” conservation, which allows a network of interconnected habitats to continue as a complete, functioning landscape. This is not only good for the health of the ecosystem as a whole, it provides room for the plants and animals in the area to expand as needed to alleviate the affects of climate change or other natural events such as forest fires or drought.

Community Forest Update: Witch Lake Expansion Area

Doc1Fort St. James Community Forest has been relatively inactive for a couple of years, as we were awaiting the closure of the Witch Lake expansion process. We have been working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, BC Timber Sales, Major Licensees, Nak’azdli First Nation and several Keyoh holders to finalize the boundary areas and get the higher level plans in place.  The process was a long one, but on November 15th, we got the news that the Boundary of the Fort St. James Community Forest had officially been changed to include the planning cells around Witch Lake.  Thank you to everybody (Government, Licensees, First Nations and the District) who worked on this process and remained focused on the goal of expanding the Community Forest. Well done!

The Witch Lake expansion area straddles the height of land between Chuchi and Witch Lake and is accessed from the West by the Leo Creek FSR and from the East through the Germansen-Witch FSR.  The new area includes approximately 9,000 hectares of expansion, of which 7,400 hectares is part of the Timber Harvesting Landbase (THLB). The long term allowable annual cut for the newly amended Community Forest, which includes all the planning cells, is modelled in the order of 45,000 cubic meters per year.  The area was chosen primarily because of the long-term sustainable timber supply and uniqueness of the area with regard to cultural heritage and recreation values associated with the Nation Lakes system.

For more information, please see the Winter 2013 Community Forest Newsletter.

COUNCIL TAKES A STANCE OPPOSING ENBRIDGE NORTHERN GATEWAY PROJECT

MEDIA RELEASE AUGUST 1, 2012

At a Special Council Meeting held on July 31, 2012, Mayor and Council of the District of Fort St. James unanimously voted to adopt a resolution declaring their opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.  The District of Fort St. James is one of the first municipalities located along the proposed pipeline route to take a formal stance on the project.  The decision to oppose the project was based on the results of a public opinion poll, numerous presentations by Enbridge, concerns raised by a local Fort St. James Sustainability Group, conversations with members of the public and the personal opinions of Council members.

At the special meeting, Mayor MacDougall articulated Council’s rationale for speaking against the project: “We feel we have listened objectively to the presentations made by Enbridge, the Fort St. James Sustainability Group and the public.  We have taken the time to research the desires of our community, and we believe we have done our due diligence.  Our decision is based on our valuing of the land base and our fresh water sources.  Of particular concern locally is the crossing of the Stuart River, which accommodates one of the largest sockeye salmon runs in the world, and Pitka Creek which flows into Stuart Lake.  If anything should happen to the pipeline and spill into our river and lake, there will be no turning back the clock.  There is no economic benefit that could outweigh the impact that would have on people’s lives here and the quality of life we enjoy.”

In June 2012 Council made the decision to hold a public opinion survey and open house for community members to share their thoughts on the project.  Council’s objective was to see if there was desire from the public for Council to take a political stance on the project.  The anonymous survey was distributed by hard copy and through online media over a period of 12 days.  Of the 198 responses to the survey, a significant majority were in favour of Council adopting a stance against the Northern Gateway project.  The concerns expressed in the survey responses focused on the potential for negative environmental impacts in the community, region and province.

In response to the news of Council’s announcement of a position on the project, Chief Fred Sam of the nearby Nak’azdli First Nation spoke about the decision.  “We believe this is good news.  This will strengthen the partnership between ourselves and the District, and we look forward to continuing to build this relationship with Fort St. James.”

In July of 2011, the District of Fort St. James registered as Government Participants in the joint review process.  On the original registration Council cited their areas of interest as being environmental, social, economic, consultative, and engagement of First Nations.  An Information Request was submitted in August 2011 asking about local employment/contracting, community investment, the relationship between Enbridge and the Nak’azdli First Nation, components of the National Energy Board Act with impacts it may have on nearby landowners, emergency response coordination with the local communities, and potential forest fire impacts should a leak occur.  A response was received from the proponent in December 2011.

District of Fort St. James Mayor and Council intend to register to speak at the final Public Hearings of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) in Prince George this fall, as well as submitting a letter of comment regarding their public opposition.  Council has been appreciative of Enbridge’s responsiveness as a corporation to the questions raised in the community, and to the open communication processes they have worked to establish with Mayor and Council.

 

Mayors Sign Mutual Aid Agreement

Regardless of the size of a jurisdiction there may be times when the jurisdiction might require additional resources. A large fire or other emergency can quickly exhaust the resources of any single jurisdiction. Large fires may require additional manpower, equipment and supplies.

On June 6, 2012, the mayors from Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Fort St. James signed a mutual aid agreement for Fire and Rescue Services that will help to enable the three municipalities to legally and promptly access on another’s resources, provide each with a better understanding of the development and use of specialized resources that are difficult and costly to provide and will provide some cost recovery to responding departments.

The agreement took effect on April 1, 2012 and will remain in effect for five years.

Emergency response frequently requires a rapid deployment of resources. This agreement is intended to minimize delay in securing additional or specialized resources from each neighbouring municipality.

Mayor Gerry Thiessen, Mayor Rob MacDougall and Mayor Dwayne Lindstrom all agreed that this agreement continues to demonstrate that working together on common issues benefits everyone. The three mayors want to thank Fire Chief Joe Pacheco, Fire Chief Rob Bennett and Fire Chief Dave Balding for their work on the Mutual Aid Agreement.