As somebody who grew up in Kitimat, and someone who still has family there, I have maintained a keen interest in what happens in that community
That interest has admittedly been heightened given the glaring similarities between Prince Rupert and Port Edward and the community I called home for more than a decade. All three communities have gone through economic downturn and all communities are now on the cusp of tremendous economic growth through the development of the liquefied natural gas industry.
It was with this in mind that I happened upon a statement from Haisla Chief Ellis Ross, whose nation has been in discussion with liquefied natural gas companies for more than a decade. And I found it interesting that Ross, who was “generally opposed” to projects when first elected is now “firm in my conviction that we must work together to ensure the projects proceed while also protecting the environment”.
In addition to examining the economics and environmental impacts of the industry, Ross lists one critical reason for his support:
“Because services like health care, highways, water and sewer – ones enjoyed by First Nations and non-First Nations alike – come with a price tag. Without reliable revenues, cutbacks are inevitable.”
While Ross properly states that “every First Nation must satisfy themselves about environmental and safety considerations before they turn to the economic benefits that can come their way”, he seems to have summed up one big consideration some have overlooked in the grand scheme of things.
As the population ages, more money is going to be needed for the health care system, money that must come from new tax revenue, increased taxes on existing residents and businesses or cuts elsewhere. I don’t want people to have to pay more or current service levels to drop, but I want to make sure people of my parents’ generation have the best health care possible.
LNG represents one way of achieving that goal.