Rural Advisory Committee eyes examples from other jurisdictions

As the province’s newly-appointed Rural Advisory Committee gets underway, its first focus is a dividend for communities in rural B.C.

As the province’s newly-appointed Rural Advisory Committee gets underway, its first focus is a dividend for communities in rural B.C.

“I have no idea where the dividend is coming from at this time and I don’t know what it’s going to look like,” said Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett who chairs the committee.

The committee spent two days last week on the topic, but has not reached a consensus yet.

“It is very complex.”

Another mandate is to look at capital and  investment for communities.

During a seminar in Salmon Arm in May that committee members attended, communities from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick shared some of examples.

One of the communities was dying economically, the demographics were changing and the last hope they had was a slaughter house and an abattoir, Barnett said.

The community went to the provincial government and came up with a community venture capital corporation.

“People who wanted to buy an RSP put it into the corporation and received an income tax benefit from the government through legislative change,” Barnett said. “With the community money he redid his abattoir, has 40 employees.”

One community has $50 million in its community venture capital program and most of the programs are paying six per cent back to their investors and have been 99 per cent successful.

“This is something I’m really interested in and as time goes on spending more time talking about it,” Barnett said. “Whether we end up with it or not, it’s something a lot of the communities who were at the seminar are interested in.”

As for the rural advisory council members, Barnett said she’s ended up with 14 Type A people at the table.

“Everybody is working really well together, they are very honest and forthright and it’s a table where people can speak their mind and nobody is going to be offended.”

It is a consensus-building table, she added.

The committee will meet again in October.

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