Proponents of the liquified natural gas industry took the stage Thursday at the final day of B.C. Natural Resources Forum to show unified support for further development.
The four initiating leaders were Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman, Dawson Creek mayor Dale Bumstead, Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth, and Haisla councillor Kevin Stewart.
Mayor Ackerman spoke first, thanking the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation for the opportunity to meet on their traditional territory, then called on those in the room to join them on stage, regardless of industry or background.
As the seats emptied and the stage filled, Ackerman explained that the natural gas industry in this province - most of it in the northeast region - had been underway for the past 70 years and was on the cusp of a new chapter, with the advent of liquifying the stuff for global transport.
"Building on our record of responsible development, B.C. will produce the greenest LNG in the world," she said. " This new industry will bring new investment, create new jobs, business and training opportunities, and will bring new revenue to B.C. that will help support our social services, including hospitals, schools, transportation, and public safety. These are not just benefits for northern B.C. but benefits experienced throughout the province and all of Canada. This is also an unprecedented opportunity for First Nations to take part in the creation of a new resource industry and see the benefits directly in their communities."
Germuth took the mic to say "the importance of the LNG industry in B.C. cannot be overstated. This is of great benefit to all of British Columbia, this is of great benefit to Canada, this is of great benefit on a global scale."
Bumstead added that the environmental benefits of LNG don't stop at the customer's end. It also applies to the producer's part of the process, and that was all-local. He cited three natural gas facilities that had been built in the northeast region in the past two years, all of which were constructed with electrical co-generation capabilities.
"Those facilities, by hooking up to BC Hydro's electrical power grid, each one of them is the equivalent of taking 182,000 vehicles off the road," he said. "That's how clean we are at producing the gas for liquifying and shipping. It's a world-class asset that we have. The opportunity is there for us to make a difference in the world."
Stewart spoke of how it would also make a world of difference right in our own B.C. communities. He opened with some words of greeting in the Haisla language, and explained how previous Haisla leaders like Ellis Ross and Steven Wilson had established the connections with industrial proponents.
"Chevron Canada and LNG Canada (the two proponents who have received Haisla approval to do natural gas business on their territory) show us the right way business is done with First Nations," Stewart said. "They have been very respectful in negotiations with our council and our negotiators and we have a very good working relationship with them. We very much want these projects to make a Final Investment Decision."
The only hurdles remaining, it was explained, were bureaucratic ones. Governments were the last remaining hurdles to the LNG dreams being realized.
"We have been in poverty for years, and our goal is to get out of poverty and create a lot of hope for our people, the benefits (every community) in B.C. wants for their people," said Stewart. "I'm very happy for the support we have on the stage here today...It's important the government listen and see that we need this to happen, and we need their support."