If the North Coast is to truly experience the prosperity that is to come, the “us versus them” mentality that is all too common among neighbouring communities cannot be allowed to rear its ugly head.
Right now there are three major LNG terminals proposed for the region. Only one of those is within the confines of Prince Rupert’s municipal boundaries; one is located on Grassy Point near Lax Kw’alaams and the other is on Lelu Island within the boundaries of Port Edward. As Mayor Jack Mussallem points out, however, both of these terminals and the companies behind them are going to be relying on the people and resources of Prince Rupert.
There are no hotels or apartment buildings in Port Edward or Lax Kw’alaams to house temporary workers, there aren’t major grocery or retail outlets to supply those workers and there aren’t the industrial resources in those communities in terms of engineering and consulting firms to handle the projects.
This isn’t a dig on those communities by any stretch of the imagination, just the facts.
A lot of these plans need a healthy Prince Rupert to be part of the plan and Prince Rupert is looking to many of these projects to provide a healthy economy.
The North Coast is a bit like a tripod at the moment, with Prince Rupert, Port Edward and the surrounding villages each representing a leg of the tripod. If one of the groups falters, the likelihood of failure is very high.
Fortunately there has already been a lot of work done in forging relationships between the leaders of the three communities in the form of regular Community-to-Community forums. But 2014 may be the year to move things forward from simple discussion to a formal understanding.
And in a perfect world, this ideal of cooperation would extend beyond the borders of the North Coast and to the Northwest as a whole. It’s something I saw during my time in the Northeast and something that needs to come to the region with everything being proposed.