by Andru McCracken

The services provided under your feet – the ones you likely take for granted, like roads in your community, clean running water and a sewer system that whisks away waste – they just got a boost from the provincial government.

The province has given McBride $2,389,000, Valemount $2,882,000 and the Regional District $4,182,000.

It’s part of a $100-million Northern Capital and Planning Grant, which provides funding for infrastructure and long-term planning to four regional districts (Fraser-Fort George, Bulkley-Nechako, Kitimat-Stikine and North Coast) and their 22 participating municipalities.

“We’ve been hearing from local governments in northern B.C. about the challenges they face funding much-needed upgrades to their aging infrastructure, and I know this new grant will help close the gap,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “With this funding, communities can start moving forward on the initiatives they need to seize opportunities now and down the road.”

Unlike other funding that is tied to a particular project and evaluated by bureaucrats, the province is trusting municipalities to spend this money wisely.

“Local governments may use the grant to meet an immediate infrastructure need for their community, save it for a future opportunity, or leverage it to secure other sources of funding, including borrowing, reserves and other grant programs, to cover major infrastructure and long-term planning initiatives,” according to the government press release.

Art Kaehn, Chair of the Fraser-Fort George Regional District board was pleased.

“The funding from the Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go a long way in helping us maintain and improve the infrastructure we have, enhancing the liveability of our rural communities within the Fraser-Fort George region,” said Kaehn.

McBride Mayor Gene Runtz said the funds will be used to deliver sustainable services.

“These funds will promote the social, economic and environmental well-being of our community and contribute to its quality of life. Thank you for your confidence in the future of northern communities.”

Owen Torgerson, Mayor of Valemount thanked the province for acknowledging the important of northern B.C. communities.

“The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will create an opportunity for the Village of Valemount to address infrastructure needs that are specifically unique to our community. We appreciate the approach taken by the provincial government; this funding program allows us the flexibility to address specific capital projects that may be of immediate importance, or to utilize funding for long-term infrastructure planning,” said Torgerson.