NEBC Resource Municipalities Coalition looking beyond Pacific NorthWest LNG

Says there's lots of work left to be done

In the wake of the federal government’s conditional environmental approval of the Pacific NorthWest LNG plant last month, members of the Northeast BC (NEBC) Resource Municipalities Coalition are reminding themselves there’s plenty of work to be done to get other projects across the finish line.

Mayors and councillors from around B.C. gathered on the steps of the legislature Sept. 28, led by the Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman and other members of the coalition, including Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser and Executive Director Colin Griffith.

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Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead, whose city is not part of the coalition, attended the gathering briefly, but left early to go to other meetings.

The press conference in front of the legislature was billed as a chance for delegates of the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference, held this year in Victoria, to have a discussion about getting the province’s resources to international markets.

However, with the PNW decision coming just one day before the event, the plant was a dominating topic.

“The economic spinoffs (for PNW in the Peace region) will be very good,” said Fraser, who is co-chair of the coalition. “(But) the work is not done… with other mayors, who I am sure will join our cause, (we’ll) continue to work on tax fairness and economic development in our region. Our work is just starting.”

His comments were echoed by Ackerman, who is also co-chair of the coalition.

“We still need to work hard to make sure that the other (projects) get to a positive final investment decision,” she said. 

The coalition's gathering with local government representatives from around the province was a chance to get that work started. Ackerman said she used it to “provide some energy literacy, inform and educate… on the safety standards of the Canadian (gas) industry.”

North Peace MLA Pat Pimm said the Peace Country had more on the line with PNW than anybody else, which is why the Trudeau government’s “yes” to the project was received as good news to those who make a living from the natural gas industry.

“If we don’t have these projects, our natural gas is stranded,” Pimm said. “Hope had nearly been lost. (Now) we get to throw the ball back to Petronas and hopefully they will make a decision in the near future.”

With rising U.S. natural gas production meaning less potential for Canadian natural gas exports to that country, Pimm said we need to find a way to get the commodity to the Asian market. It’s a pattern those in the forestry industry are familiar with, he noted.

“If we didn’t have access to the Asian market in forestry, we wouldn’t have a forestry industry right now,” Pimm said.

The NEBC Resource Municipalities Coalition plans to host a fall forum from Nov. 29 - Dec. 1 in Taylor. 

The focus of the forum will be: “The future of resource development in B.C.”

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—follow @mike_carter05 on Twitter.

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