The development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the province will result in a bright and prosperous future for the Northwest, two visiting provincial ministers said.
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes and Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad were in Prince Rupert on Aug. 7 to meet with elected officials and the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, and spoke to how large the opportunities are with LNG.
“We have 15 proposals across the province right now. If five of these projects go forward, we would need a workforce of approximately 135,000 people … companies like Shell and Petronas are spending $1 billion just to get to the point where they can make a decision. They haven’t even decided yet and are spending that much money because they believe in the opportunity in B.C.,” explained Rustad, noting there is a window of time to make the most of the opportunities.
“It is up to us if we want to seize it, because the opportunity is there … but we are in a race, a race with the rest of the world. If we stumble, these companies will look at opportunities elsewhere.”
But for the community to see the most benefit from the industry, Rustad said First Nations in the region need to see benefits as well.
“You cannot have a prosperous Prince Rupert if you don’t have prosperous communities around you. It just can’t happen,” he said, adding First Nations involvement will only help with project development.
“These companies need to ensure they have certainty on the land, and we are working with First Nations to provide them that.”
For her part, Oakes said she was in town to hear from businesses and people about what is needed to make the industry on the North Coast a reality.
“I understand the fears, the concerns and understand the business community questioning how they are going to prepare for this opportunity … I understand how difficult it is to get the infrastructure in place needed by rural communities,” she said.
“LNG can’t be successful if communities are not successful. We understand that.”
Former mayor and former B.C. Liberal candidate Herb Pond echoed the need for the government to get involved in bringing these industries to town.
“I am hoping the province is keenly aware that the City of Prince Rupert is still on wobbly knees from the last go-around and will not be in a position to provide infrastructure needed for these companies,” he said.