Should major changes come to the North Coast following a positive final investment decision from any liquefied natural gas proponent, Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain says the city will be ready and will have the backing of industry and other levels of government.
“We have proponents and others realizing that the City of Prince Rupert has a plan and, by mid-May, we will basically have all of the ducks in a row for a variety of topics ranging from the airport to infrastructure preparedness to housing,” he told directors at the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District meeting on Feb. 20.
“Before it was a proponent over here doing something and a proponent over here doing something and maybe the Chamber of Commerce is thinking of something and the province is thinking something different. We have been pulling everyone in and today people realized the city has a plan. Now everyone is kind of coming around us … a lot of these problems are the city’s problems and there wasn’t this dynamic happening before. Now we have been able to get everyone behind us around this plan and they are supporting us, so I am feeling a lot more optimistic about the situation.”
While noting much of the plan is not yet being made available publicly, Brain told the other directors that what he and council have put together is something that could make the community at the forefront of preparedness in Canada and beyond.
“I think Prince Rupert has the ability to be a model for how we handle hyper-economic activity … we have the opportunity to be a leader in that and if we do it successfully it can be a global model that can be exported to other communities that will experience this type of growth,” he said, adding the planning work of council could be beneficial regardless of a positive or negative decision.
“We’re just going to continue to be diligent and ensure that when a final investment decision happens, everybody is looking at the same plan and there is a coordinated list of priorities that need to be funded so that this community will be able to handle it … even if it doesn’t happen and all of this LNG stuff falls to the wayside, we have at least done a significant amount of work for us.”
Sitting just down the table from director Des Nobels, who has spoken against Pacific NorthWest LNG locating on Lelu Island and Aurora LNG’s plans for a facility on Digby Island, Brain acknowledged not all in the community are supportive of the industry. However, he said it was critically important the city be prepared despite concerns of some residents.
“Regardless of the negative or positive feelings about it, it is important we are as prepared as possible so people can benefit from it as much as possible. If it happens, it’s better that you have people taken care of,” he said, also acknowledging the impact the industry could have on the North Coast.
“LNG is going to transform this town at a major level and Prince Rupert will not be recognizable when LNG goes through.”