Opinion: Resource sector offers opportunities for First Nations people

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Opinion: Resource sector offers opportunities for First Nations people

Risks can be mitigated: Blanket ban on all development in the province is troubling

Written by: Bruce Dumont for The Vancouver Sun, December 02, 2013 

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bruce dumont

I received an early education in the benefits of the resource industry, having grown up around the forestry and oil and gas sectors in B.C. and Alberta.

My father worked in forestry as a faller and bucker for 46 years, and I did the same for some 20 years, later specializing in occupational safety.

I’ve witnessed first-hand the enormous economic and social opportunities our resource sector can provide to Metis and First Nations people.

In fact, across the country more than 650 communities depend on resource industries like mining, forestry, fishing and oil and gas — and these industries employ millions of Canadians directly and indirectly.

The oilsands sector, for example, is one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the country. In 2010, companies in the oilsands purchased $1.3 billion in goods and services from Aboriginal-owned businesses.

There are some 17,000 Metis working in the resource sector today in wide-ranging fields from lawyers and accountants to pipefitters, electricians, welders, consultants and engineers. These are high-paying jobs that help support Metis families and communities.

B.C. must continue to support its vital resource and energy sectors. Whether it’s building a mine or constructing a pipeline, such projects can be built responsibly, in a manner that protects the environment while enhancing livelihoods for Metis people and other British Columbians.

Metis history is closely intertwined with the history of the resource sector. Indeed, the Metis were the original entrepreneurs of the fur trade in this country.

While I’m very proud of that history, I also recognize that the resource sector has come a long way in the past few decades. I’ve seen it. Those who work in the resource sector today are no longer just “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” but rather innovators, using cutting-edge technology to pioneer more environmentally sound and effective means of extracting our bountiful natural resources for the benefit of society.

Yet some continue to promote an anti-development narrative in this province that claims all development, no matter how environmentally and socially responsible, should be restricted.

For me, a blanket ban on all resource development in this province is worrying.

Sure, we should say no to development projects that can’t be done right and that would damage our province’s environment.

At the same time, while no resource project is without risk, these risks can be mitigated. Serious efforts can be made to ensure such projects are built and operated responsibly using the highest environmental standards and safeguards.

And the risk runs both ways. Wide-ranging efforts to prevent responsible resource development risk us losing vital social and economic opportunities.

I believe some of this opposition is based simply on a lack of knowledge. People, including some in our Metis Nation BC membership, may react negatively to a resource project proposal because they do not have enough information about the project being planned. I respect any informed opinion.

And many urban dwellers have never seen the rigorous environmental and safety practices being implemented everyday in the modern resource sector.

So it’s important for the resource industries to continue educating British Columbians about modern mining, forestry, oil and gas and pipeline practices.

I continue to encourage our Metis youth to tour modern forestry operations and visit mine sites, for example, because such first-hand experiences can provide them with a better understanding of how the resource sector operates.

According to Statistics Canada, the Metis population is younger than the non-Aboriginal population and continues to grow. This young, dynamic and growing population is in need of jobs that pay well and provide good livelihoods.

Many of those jobs are being created in the resource sector. And so policies that encourage responsible resource development are critical to the future prosperity of this province.

That’s why I was pleased with the recent framework agreement supporting responsible oil pipeline development between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford. The agreement makes clear that B.C. will permit pipelines only if they are built to the highest standards and provide clear benefits for local communities and the province as a whole.

The Metis are a proud and independent people. My experience has been that the resource sector allows people to maintain and enhance that independence.

When I was young, the resource sector provided opportunities that allowed me to work hard, build a good life and raise a family.

I’d like to see the youth of today get those same opportunities. And by developing policies that support a strong, thriving and environmentally responsible resource sector, those opportunities can continue to be made real for thousands of young British Columbians.

Bruce Dumont is President of Metis Nation BC, which represents 35 Metis Chartered Communities and the majority of the 70,000 self identified Metis in British Columbia and is mandated to develop and enhance opportunities for Metis communities by implementing culturally relevant social and economic programs and services.

Read the original article here.

 

Banning coal simplistic, unreasonable and unwise

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Opinion: Mineral is part of the fabric of our human existence

By David Brett, The Vancouver Sun,  September 05, 2013

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A train transports coal near Gillette, Wyo. Writer David Brett argues that Vancouver is being smug when it bans coal, even though it has none to ban. Photograph by: Nati Harnik , Vancouver Sun

Poor coal. It’s the mineral not even a mother could love. It’s the orphaned rock, dirty to burn and easy to hate. Vancouver was cheered recently for banning coal, even though it had no coal to ban. Oppose coal and you’re a rock star. Support coal and you’re booed offstage. Surely opposing West Coast coal exports to Asia is the smart, environmentally and morally right thing to do.

Or is it? A series of inconvenient realities suggest otherwise.

First, despite the current trend away from coal to cheap gas, China and other developing countries will need coal for the foreseeable future. The morality of denying them access to it is questionable. For hundreds of millions in China and elsewhere, consuming coal for electricity and heat is not a choice. Removing North American coal supplies from the market will not reduce consumption, but will likely increase prices. It will also encourage coal mining in less safe jurisdictions. Is it right for us to impose such hardships on our fellow human beings while presenting no current practical alternatives?

Second, the intelligence of actively choking off coal exports is suspect. The robust emerging economies of China, India and Southeast Asia are crucial to our own economic well-being. Stock markets tremble at even the hint of a slowdown in China. Consumer confidence here lives in simpatico with Asia. How smart is it to put our foot on the brakes of those economies by increasing their energy costs?

One way some pundits make such imprudence look clever is to style natural resource wealth as a handicap, as if knowledge-based sectors falter when resource extraction thrives. But this is a false argument because the extractive sectors are knowledge-based and already rich with intellectual capital. Just ask any geologist, engineer, or GIS software designer. Resource wealth drives innovation, not the opposite.

Another inconvenient reality is that poverty in the developing world will worsen if we manipulate energy supplies. Industrialization reduces poverty by releasing agrarian families from mere subsistence. It creates higher paying jobs, enabling increased education for children and autonomy for women. Over the long term, this results in a more affluent, service- and knowledge-based economy. The energy driving this gradual process is coal. Blocking North American coal supplies to Asia risks driving up the cost of living for the world’s poor.

Making life harder for the poor through our energy agenda is not something we in the West like to contemplate. Instead, we romanticize the notion of the noble peasant farmer, living off the land with a minimal environmental footprint. Subsistence farming is not poverty, we reason, it’s a cherished traditional lifestyle we should admire. Of course, most of us don’t live those ideals ourselves, choosing rather to educate our children for knowledge-based careers in the city. The dissonance is so real we pat ourselves on the back for paying a few cents extra for fair-trade coffee, as if that rights all the wrong we are doing.

Yes, the negative environmental, health and safety impacts of coal mining and use are significant. Poor countries are not oblivious to coal’s negative impact, but they need it at present to better the standard of living for their citizens. Why not provide these countries with North American coal that’s mined according to tough environmental and safety guidelines, creating well-paying jobs and prosperous communities on this side of the Pacific?

And why not encourage them to use the latest coal burning and scrubber technologies to reduce air pollutants?

The problem with public discourse on coal is that simplistic answers are preferred over holistic, well-reasoned and defensible solutions.

Coal adds to global warming and therefore we should ban it, they say. But the truth is we can’t ban coal. Australia will be more than happy to rake in the billions we will be leaving on the table for them.

Then there’s the “leadership” argument. If we “take a stand” and “send a message” that coal is bad, we do ourselves proud. But such hectoring from one of the world’s wealthiest cities is at best sanctimonious and at worst pure, selfish NIMBYism.

Coal is not just a much-loathed rock we can toss aside; it’s part of the fabric of our human existence. We have a complex relationship with coal built over millennia. We can’t rashly break it off over night. Coal needs a little love too.

A senior adviser to Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. (greenspiritstrategies.com), David Brett has spent much of his life in the natural resources sector.

Read the original article here.

Why B.C. needs to ‘get to yes’ on major resource projects

Vancouver Sun

Opinion: A minority’s pushback is threatening our future

Written by: John Winter, Special to the Vancouver Sun August 16, 2013

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For a province awash in talent and natural assets, it’s disturbing to see how much British Columbian ingenuity is being channelled into our province’s alarming — and growing — “culture of no.”

Robyn Allan’s attack of Northern Gateway’s job numbers (Vancouver Sun, Issues and Ideas, Aug. 13) is yet another example of that — an intellectual exercise geared at undercutting one of B.C.’s most ambitious and promising job-creating projects to date.

And for what gain?

As British Columbians, we need to sit up and take heed of where the public discourse on resource projects has got to.

From our vantage point, as a network of more than 120 Chambers and 36,000 represented businesses in communities throughout all of B.C., here’s what we’re seeing: it’s a pretty frightening place.

In virtually every corner of the province, we’re seeing the same thing: Smart, highly environmentally responsible projects that can employ our children and keep our towns alive are being battered, paralyzed and stomped out.

By whom, you ask?

Not by most of you, that’s for sure. Broad-based polling consistently finds that the majority of British Columbians favour a “getting to yes” approach to resource projects. This approach calls for top-tier environmental and social practices but, critically, wants to see sound projects succeed.

So no — the pushback on projects isn’t broad-based but rather a minority position. However, that minority pushback, through effective organization and scathing rhetoric, is threatening B.C.’s future for all of us.

And that’s where, as British Columbians, we can’t sit back and watch the “culture of no” threaten our province’s economic future.

Take the Northern Gateway project.

With its $6.5-billion price tag, the project promises to be one of the largest private investments this province has ever seen.

And while critics such as Allan may attack specific job counts, here’s what’s clear: this project will create a vast quantity of high-paying jobs in northern B.C. That’s jobs that will help communities thrive and B.C.’s broader economy to grow. (As a side point, the real problem for B.C. won’t be how many jobs Northern Gateway can create, but just how we’ll fill them all.)

For all of us B.C. taxpayers, as we brace for aging demographics and escalating health care costs, Northern Gateway means $1.2 billion in projected tax revenue to support B.C. health care, education and social programs. That’s a substantial investment in maintaining and growing B.C.’s enviable standard of living.

For B.C. businesses, perhaps one of the most promising things about this project is Enbridge’s commitment to local procurement and local jobs. That’s a commitment to employ British Columbians and keeping spinoff economic activity in the province. That means that from Terrace to Tumbler Ridge, Prince George to Prince Rupert and Vancouver to Victoria, B.C. businesses will see very real benefits from this project.

This is a great gain for B.C. small businesses, which make up 98 per cent of our provincial business community. It also aligns directly with the B.C. government’s forward-looking Small Business Accord. This accord, which the B.C. Chamber had long sought and was implemented this year, will ensure that B.C.’s small businesses have a real shot at landing procurement deals for government projects and programs.

Principles of local procurement and local jobs will only heighten the gains for small business that, as we’ve seen time and time again in B.C., are triggered by large-scale infrastructure investments in our province.

Whether it’s the Port of Prince Rupert in the northwest, oil and gas development in the northeast or investments in Port Metro Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport, these investments have catalyzed the creation and development of countless B.C. businesses.

So there’s a lot at stake here. And frankly, what’s yet to be decided has nothing to do with project economics (which, Ms. Allan, are frankly settled), but rather how we balance economic value against other B.C. priorities, as the Joint Review Panel is assessing.

And with this project, as with any that proposes such substantial benefits for B.C., we hope that British Columbians will take a close look at what’s to gain here. We certainly don’t ask that environmental or community concerns be sidelined. But we’d ask that jobs and economic value not be sidelined as well. This is our future and our kids’ future.

And if you’ve been staying out of project debates in B.C. thus far, we’d urge you to lend your voice to shifting this “culture of no.”

Because if we can pool our B.C. ingenuity and focus on building our province, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.

John Winter is president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

Read the original article here.

Why B.C. needs to ‘get to yes’ on major resource projects

Vancouver Sun

Opinion: A minority’s pushback is threatening our future

Written by: John Winter, Special to the Vancouver Sun August 16, 2013

Continue reading

Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, is pictured in an aerial view in Kitimat, B.C., on January 10, 2012.

Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, is pictured in an aerial view in Kitimat, B.C., on January 10, 2012.

For a province awash in talent and natural assets, it’s disturbing to see how much British Columbian ingenuity is being channelled into our province’s alarming — and growing — “culture of no.”

Robyn Allan’s attack of Northern Gateway’s job numbers (Vancouver Sun, Issues and Ideas, Aug. 13) is yet another example of that — an intellectual exercise geared at undercutting one of B.C.’s most ambitious and promising job-creating projects to date.

And for what gain?

As British Columbians, we need to sit up and take heed of where the public discourse on resource projects has got to.

From our vantage point, as a network of more than 120 Chambers and 36,000 represented businesses in communities throughout all of B.C., here’s what we’re seeing: it’s a pretty frightening place.

In virtually every corner of the province, we’re seeing the same thing: Smart, highly environmentally responsible projects that can employ our children and keep our towns alive are being battered, paralyzed and stomped out.

By whom, you ask?

Not by most of you, that’s for sure. Broad-based polling consistently finds that the majority of British Columbians favour a “getting to yes” approach to resource projects. This approach calls for top-tier environmental and social practices but, critically, wants to see sound projects succeed.

So no — the pushback on projects isn’t broad-based but rather a minority position. However, that minority pushback, through effective organization and scathing rhetoric, is threatening B.C.’s future for all of us.

And that’s where, as British Columbians, we can’t sit back and watch the “culture of no” threaten our province’s economic future.

Take the Northern Gateway project.

With its $6.5-billion price tag, the project promises to be one of the largest private investments this province has ever seen.

And while critics such as Allan may attack specific job counts, here’s what’s clear: this project will create a vast quantity of high-paying jobs in northern B.C. That’s jobs that will help communities thrive and B.C.’s broader economy to grow. (As a side point, the real problem for B.C. won’t be how many jobs Northern Gateway can create, but just how we’ll fill them all.)

For all of us B.C. taxpayers, as we brace for aging demographics and escalating health care costs, Northern Gateway means $1.2 billion in projected tax revenue to support B.C. health care, education and social programs. That’s a substantial investment in maintaining and growing B.C.’s enviable standard of living.

For B.C. businesses, perhaps one of the most promising things about this project is Enbridge’s commitment to local procurement and local jobs. That’s a commitment to employ British Columbians and keeping spinoff economic activity in the province. That means that from Terrace to Tumbler Ridge, Prince George to Prince Rupert and Vancouver to Victoria, B.C. businesses will see very real benefits from this project.

This is a great gain for B.C. small businesses, which make up 98 per cent of our provincial business community. It also aligns directly with the B.C. government’s forward-looking Small Business Accord. This accord, which the B.C. Chamber had long sought and was implemented this year, will ensure that B.C.’s small businesses have a real shot at landing procurement deals for government projects and programs.

Principles of local procurement and local jobs will only heighten the gains for small business that, as we’ve seen time and time again in B.C., are triggered by large-scale infrastructure investments in our province.

Whether it’s the Port of Prince Rupert in the northwest, oil and gas development in the northeast or investments in Port Metro Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport, these investments have catalyzed the creation and development of countless B.C. businesses.

So there’s a lot at stake here. And frankly, what’s yet to be decided has nothing to do with project economics (which, Ms. Allan, are frankly settled), but rather how we balance economic value against other B.C. priorities, as the Joint Review Panel is assessing.

And with this project, as with any that proposes such substantial benefits for B.C., we hope that British Columbians will take a close look at what’s to gain here. We certainly don’t ask that environmental or community concerns be sidelined. But we’d ask that jobs and economic value not be sidelined as well. This is our future and our kids’ future.

And if you’ve been staying out of project debates in B.C. thus far, we’d urge you to lend your voice to shifting this “culture of no.”

Because if we can pool our B.C. ingenuity and focus on building our province, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.

John Winter is president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

Read the original article here.

Building oil pipelines to bring Canadian product to market is in many ways a no-brainer.

The world will not wait for Canada’s oil

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The world will not wait for Canada’s oil

Written by: Sherry Cooper, The Globe and Mail on August 06, 2013

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Building oil pipelines to bring Canadian product to market is in many ways a no-brainer.

Take for example the proposed Northern Gateway from Alberta to the West Coast and the Energy East proposal from Alberta to the East Coast.

The construction of these projects is a no-brainer because today, more than ever before, we need Canadian oil sands product to reach tidewater and international markets.

According to a recent bank report, Canadians lost $25-billion in oil revenue in 2012 due to a lack of pipeline infrastructure and continuing bottlenecks that prevent our oil from getting to the highest-paying markets.

We’ll lose another $20-billion this year and $15-billion every year going forward without new pipeline construction.

This is money that would benefit Canadians from coast to coast, helping to fund our health, education and social programs.

The time when we could depend on the United States as our sole oil and gas customer is long gone. In 2011, for the first time in more than 60 years, the US exported more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than it imported.

Thanks to the shale revolution, the United States is set to become the world’s largest oil producer – overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia – just four years from now according to the International Energy Agency.

Given the U.S. is awash in oil and gas and given the country remains Canada’s only customer, Western Canadian oil sold earlier this year for a discount of as much as $43 a barrel compared to the oil known as West Texas Intermediate. And Canadian oil was discounted even further compared to the North Sea oil known as Brent. While those differentials have since narrowed, Canadian oil still trades at a significant discount.

Even more worrisome is the prediction by experts that in the foreseeable future the US won’t need Canadian oil at all. Currently, the U.S. has been able to reduce its reliance on oil from unfriendly countries such as Venezuela by replacing it with increased imports from Canada. But as U.S. oil production continues to grow rapidly, its imports of Canadian oil will inevitably decline.

Canada’s need to diversify its oil markets, then, has never been clearer. While U.S. demand for foreign oil declines, strong demand remains in emerging markets such as China and India.

So why the controversy over pipelines? Surely we must consider environmental impacts and ensure those impacts are managed and mitigated to the greatest extent possible. Proposed projects like Northern Gateway have committed to doing just that.

But pipelines are not a new, untested technology. Canadians have been building pipelines since 1853, and we’ve become leaders in innovative and safe pipeline design.

Pipelines remain the safest means of transporting large volumes of oil and gas overland.

Today’s pipelines use the latest technology, including 24/7 computerized monitoring, aerial patrols, x-ray and ultrasonic testing of welds, durable coating systems, increased pipe wall thickness and properly spaced safety control valves – just to name a few of the advances.

I can’t emphasize enough how essential it is that we start moving ahead with pipeline projects that run east to west and west to east. And let’s not consider the Energy East pipeline as a replacement for Northern Gateway or vice versa – true market diversification means we need both.

Yes, there are risks with moving forward, as there are with any energy development.

But I believe the risks of not doing so are far greater. Indeed, if we fail to build new pipeline infrastructure, we are risking the future prosperity of this country.

Norway made the right decision in developing its offshore oil and gas reserves. It now enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and its health, social and educational programs are second to none.

Closer to home, Newfoundland has developed its offshore oil and gas sector, becoming a “have” province for the first time in history and enriching its citizens and Canada as a whole.

Endlessly debating the pros and cons of pipeline development will get us nowhere.

The world will not wait for Canadian oil. If we can’t deliver the goods, markets will find other suppliers, including growing shale oil and gas deposits in the United States.

Determining what share of the windfall each province receives is a detail that can be worked out at the negotiating table – but not having inter-provincial agreements now is no reason to delay the decision-making process.

So let’s commit to new, safe and environmentally-sound pipeline infrastructure that runs east to west and west to east and will get our oil to market responsibly – and let’s do it now.

Because whether you’re from B.C., Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick or another province, we’re all Canadians, and we’ll all benefit when our oil can be sold on the international market for a fair price.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/the-world-will-not-wait-for-canadas-oil/article13608302/

Sherry Cooper is financial advisor to MDC Partners Inc. and former executive vice-president and chief economist at Bank of Montreal.

Canada can sell oil and be green at the same time

Opinion: Canada can sell oil and be green at the same time

By Robert Deane, www.thespec.com July 27, 2013

My mother used to tell me only to worry about the things I could change. There are things in this world which are going to change whether I approve, disapprove; or, as is often the case, I have no opinion at all. Continue reading

Recently, I was discussing the oil industry with a group of students and we collectively concluded that oil was probably going to be a centrepiece of our economic lives for the foreseeable future, regardless of our personal dispositions.

The nature of worldwide demand is unlikely to change. However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot benefit from this future and, hopefully, maximize the opportunities that will undoubtedly exist.

As the world reaches, as many analysts believe, peak oil, we are driven to extract it in places that are increasingly more dangerous, difficult and expensive. Frequently, all of these conditions are present. This places an extra burden on all of us, as caretakers of this planet, to be diligent in our husbandry of this valuable resource.

This is why I feel strongly that this country, our country, should seek every opportunity to take advantage of the natural gifts we have been given, but in a responsible way. I have been following the developments of one of these opportunities, the Northern Gateway pipeline, for some time.

I feel this is one opportunity we can take advantage of; and control, to our collective advantage. If built, Northern Gateway will bestow economic benefits to all Canadians with manageable, minimal risk to the lands it will cross.

It will enable us to sell oil to the world rather than to one customer. It will provide us with leverage at the bargaining table, thousands of temporary and permanent jobs, and a lasting infrastructure we can exploit for decades.

Canada is a trading nation. Our lifestyle, which is the envy of many in the world, was forged by opening our borders to ideas, people and industry. By trading our commodities, value-added products and ideas with our trading partners, we created an economy which belies our small numbers.

The Northern Gateway Project is one of those ideas that will open our fuel market to Asia, the world’s largest potential customer and a market that Canadian businesspeople and their politicians are anxious to develop.

We have a chance to participate in this burgeoning eastern economy or to sit on the sidelines and watch others reap the substantial benefits. I would therefore exhort all stakeholders; government (federal and provincial), businesspeople across the country, opinion leaders, reasonable environmental stakeholders and native communities, to embrace this project and let their voices be heard.

This project is in the gestational stage and affords ample opportunity for all interested parties to have an impact on the eventual outcome. Some may say that their disapproval of such a project stems from a desire to see development of alternate sustainable energy choices such as wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal.

Like many, I look forward to the day when we can operate this planet relying only on “green” energy. However, as long as we are reliant on fossil fuels it is in our continuing interest to do so in a responsible and financially beneficial manner.

The ideas, funds and technology arising from development of our current resources will, if we are wise, finance the development of future energy choices. A long term strategic approach to our national energy future is the best guarantee of economic stability for all of us.

I believe that the Northern Gateway is an essential component of this strategic future. It is indeed, something we can control for our mutual and enduring benefit.

 

Professor Robert Deane teaches Business at King’s University College, Western University.

http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/3911519-canada-can-sell-oil-and-be-green-at-the-same-time/

Counterpoint: Proposed pipeline a barrier or a benefit?

Vancouver Sun

Opinion: Challenged to get a ‘Yes’ in the West 

By Gerry Martin, Special to The Vancouver Sun July 3, 2013 Continue reading

Bernie Gairdner

Bernie Gairdner works in Fort Nelson First Nation as a consultant with the oil and gas industry. Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has become a litmus test for B.C.’s new relationship with First Nations communities.

In a province so blessed with a skilled, well-educated workforce, a strong history of sustainable enterprise, and abundant energy resources, how do you get to “Yes” on questions of resource development projects in B.C.?

It’s a key challenge many of us are working on. And while the solution isn’t simple, at least part of the answer seems to be in starting some conversations about how we want our economy and our communities to look.

By now, many political analysts have said the recent B.C. election gave Premier Christy Clark a clear mandate for economic growth and the jobs and stronger communities that come with it. And yet, moving forward with large projects in B.C. continues to look daunting to companies that have to justify their investments to ever-watchful shareholders.

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project is a perfect example. From increased construction and maintenance jobs, to added financial and technical services, to increased consumer spending, the benefits of building a pipeline to the West Coast and shipping our energy products to Asian markets are clear.

Who will gain? Most everyone gains, from the companies involved, to their shareholders and pension funds, to local and provincial governments in B.C., Alberta and across the entire country. Through capacity-building and access to economic opportunities, First Nations will benefit. In fact, if you accept that prosperity has to be created before it can be shared, then the potential economic and social benefits of a project like this are self-evident.

So, is there a problem? Yes. In a word, the problem is risk. Some British Columbians value their landscape so much that they can’t imagine allowing a pipeline to be built across it. But as more people learn of the 60 years of safe pipelining experience from Alberta to the B.C. coast, that objection is blunted.

But it doesn’t disappear. To make matters worse, many have expressed genuine concern over the recent and notable exception to Enbridge’s safety record — the pipeline breech at Marshall, Michigan, where in 2010 an estimated 843,444 gallons leaked, some of which reached the Kalamazoo River.

Thinking that a reasonable way to advance my own understanding of the project and the company would be to participate in discussions with local residents who were most affected, I visited the spill site with an Enbridge-sponsored delegation of British Columbians recently. We met with officials from the local health authority, municipal administrators, wildlife experts, company officials and just plain folks.

I want to be very clear — nobody should minimize the very serious situation that occurred in Marshall when the pipeline breeched.

But I can tell you with confidence that we heard from agencies, academics and local onlookers. And in every case, we were told the company performed in an exemplary way in the spill’s aftermath, exceeded expectations and worked tirelessly with others as it brought the river back to health.

Still, while many of us were impressed with the commitment shown by Enbridge in addressing the spill head-on, the fact is we have an opportunity to push even harder so that all pipelines including Northern Gateway are built to the highest environmental and safety standards imaginable.

In other words, while Enbridge performed well in reacting to the Michigan situation, we want to prevent a similar spill from occurring in B.C. And why not teach others around the world about building and operating pipelines safely? We have the knowledge, technology and ability to set a world-class standard for pipeline operation and spill prevention.

Will we satisfy the segment of the population that opposes development by saying that no risk is ever acceptable? Clearly we won’t. But we certainly should talk about these projects with a view to real exchanges of information.

To put it in some perspective, I’m a longtime Terrace resident and businessman and, like many of my neighbours, I genuinely love our beautiful outdoor spaces in this part of the world. But I also recognize that society — ours as well as others around the world — still requires oil to power so much of its industry, its health care, its transportation and indeed its very way of life. In fact, a great deal of our standard of living is derived from revenues from the oil and gas industry.

So there’s a need for some honest, open discussion. Projects such as Northern Gateway are so important to communities, to provinces, to the nation and to the government programs we all rely on. I hope people continue engaging in the discussion of projects like Northern Gateway, and continue urging it be built and operated right. Because that’s how we’ll get to “Yes.”

Terrace resident Gerry Martin has been chairman of the B.C. Progress Board, a member of the Premier’s Technology Council, a governor and chairman of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and a director of the University of Northern BC Foundation. Most recently he’s served as a member of the B.C. Agenda for Shared Prosperity, a joint initiative of the B.C. Business Council and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

Counterpoint: Proposed pipeline a barrier or a benefit?

Vancouver Sun

Opinion: Challenged to get a ‘Yes’ in the West 

By Gerry Martin, Special to The Vancouver Sun July 3, 2013

Continue reading

Bernie Gairdner

Bernie Gairdner works in Fort Nelson First Nation as a consultant with the oil and gas industry. Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has become a litmus test for B.C.’s new relationship with First Nations communities.

It’s a key challenge many of us are working on. And while the solution isn’t simple, at least part of the answer seems to be in starting some conversations about how we want our economy and our communities to look.

By now, many political analysts have said the recent B.C. election gave Premier Christy Clark a clear mandate for economic growth and the jobs and stronger communities that come with it. And yet, moving forward with large projects in B.C. continues to look daunting to companies that have to justify their investments to ever-watchful shareholders.

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project is a perfect example. From increased construction and maintenance jobs, to added financial and technical services, to increased consumer spending, the benefits of building a pipeline to the West Coast and shipping our energy products to Asian markets are clear.

Who will gain? Most everyone gains, from the companies involved, to their shareholders and pension funds, to local and provincial governments in B.C., Alberta and across the entire country. Through capacity-building and access to economic opportunities, First Nations will benefit. In fact, if you accept that prosperity has to be created before it can be shared, then the potential economic and social benefits of a project like this are self-evident.

So, is there a problem? Yes. In a word, the problem is risk. Some British Columbians value their landscape so much that they can’t imagine allowing a pipeline to be built across it. But as more people learn of the 60 years of safe pipelining experience from Alberta to the B.C. coast, that objection is blunted.

But it doesn’t disappear. To make matters worse, many have expressed genuine concern over the recent and notable exception to Enbridge’s safety record — the pipeline breech at Marshall, Michigan, where in 2010 an estimated 843,444 gallons leaked, some of which reached the Kalamazoo River.

Thinking that a reasonable way to advance my own understanding of the project and the company would be to participate in discussions with local residents who were most affected, I visited the spill site with an Enbridge-sponsored delegation of British Columbians recently. We met with officials from the local health authority, municipal administrators, wildlife experts, company officials and just plain folks.

I want to be very clear — nobody should minimize the very serious situation that occurred in Marshall when the pipeline breeched.

But I can tell you with confidence that we heard from agencies, academics and local onlookers. And in every case, we were told the company performed in an exemplary way in the spill’s aftermath, exceeded expectations and worked tirelessly with others as it brought the river back to health.

Still, while many of us were impressed with the commitment shown by Enbridge in addressing the spill head-on, the fact is we have an opportunity to push even harder so that all pipelines including Northern Gateway are built to the highest environmental and safety standards imaginable.

In other words, while Enbridge performed well in reacting to the Michigan situation, we want to prevent a similar spill from occurring in B.C. And why not teach others around the world about building and operating pipelines safely? We have the knowledge, technology and ability to set a world-class standard for pipeline operation and spill prevention.

Will we satisfy the segment of the population that opposes development by saying that no risk is ever acceptable? Clearly we won’t. But we certainly should talk about these projects with a view to real exchanges of information.

To put it in some perspective, I’m a longtime Terrace resident and businessman and, like many of my neighbours, I genuinely love our beautiful outdoor spaces in this part of the world. But I also recognize that society — ours as well as others around the world — still requires oil to power so much of its industry, its health care, its transportation and indeed its very way of life. In fact, a great deal of our standard of living is derived from revenues from the oil and gas industry.

So there’s a need for some honest, open discussion. Projects such as Northern Gateway are so important to communities, to provinces, to the nation and to the government programs we all rely on. I hope people continue engaging in the discussion of projects like Northern Gateway, and continue urging it be built and operated right. Because that’s how we’ll get to “Yes.”

Terrace resident Gerry Martin has been chairman of the B.C. Progress Board, a member of the Premier’s Technology Council, a governor and chairman of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and a director of the University of Northern BC Foundation. Most recently he’s served as a member of the B.C. Agenda for Shared Prosperity, a joint initiative of the B.C. Business Council and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.