Northern communities to rally in support of LNG

Terrace, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson holding truck rallies to support LNG industry
Groups supporting an LNG in Terrace, Fort St. John and fort Nelson have created Facebook pages and petitions.

Blue-collar workers, First Nations and small business owners in Northern B.C. are planning coordinated rallies in Terrace, Fort Nelson and Fort St. John tomorrow (March 16) to show their support for liquefied natural gas projects.

The three communities are planning truck rallies, in the hope that it attracts enough media attention to reach Ottawa.

The drilling and exploration side of the natural gas sector in Northeastern B.C. has been hit with a drastic downturn over the last year, putting people and businesses out of work.

Continental Pipeline and Facility in Fort St. John, for example, which employed up to 700 workers and contractors at its peak, is going out of business and selling auctioning off its equipment this week.

Northern communities have been pinning their hopes on an LNG industry taking off. But there are growing fears that environmentalists and the few First Nations who oppose the industry are getting more attention from the media and Ottawa than the many First Nations and thousands of ordinary workers, contractors and small business owners who support it.

First Nations like the Haisla and Wet'suwet'en support the natural gas LNG industries.

Kitselas First Nation Chief Councillor Joe Bevan will be among the First Nations speaking in favour of an LNG industry at the Terrace rally.

“Our position on LNG is based on due diligence – not just our own but the work done by other First Nations in the Northwest, the large majority of whom share our position," Bevan said in a press release. "As long as proponents maintain strong environmental standards, we support LNG because it brings jobs and growth to our nation."

Alan Yu, an immigrant from the Philippines who used to live in Vancouver, bought into the LNG dream that the B.C. government has been pushing.

He took a Working in Natural Gas course at Vancouver Community College and moved to Fort St. John a year ago. He got a job right away as a two-way radio technician. In January he was laid off.

Yu started a group called Fort St. John for LNG and says he has 1,800 people who have signed up.

“I want the forces of the Yes to be louder than the forces of No,” Yu said.

A single large LNG project like the Pacific NorthWest LNG project would result in a capital investment of about $40 billion and generate an estimated 4,500 jobs during construction.

All three truck rallies take place at noon tomorrow. The rallies are being supported by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

“These events represent a groundswell of grassroots support from the silent majority of B.C. residents who support the Pacific NorthWest LNG project and the jobs that come with it,” said ICBA vice president Gord Stewart. “We applaud their collective efforts.”

nbennett@biv.com
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