Government to offer LNG money to northwest

THE PROVINCIAL government fully expects to provide local governments with a piece of the expected tax revenues from potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) developments, says a cabinet minister.

Community development minister Bill Bennett is wrapping up a two-day visit to Terrace and Kitimat today, speaking with officials about the impact of as many as five natural gas pipeline construction projects or pipeline expansion projects to feed accompanying LNG plants.

There’s an existing program in the northeast whereby municipalities and regional districts receive revenue from energy developments and equivalent revenue sharing agreements in the Kootenays, said Bennett.

“So there’s precedence for this,” said Bennett of any eventual revenue sharing agreement for northwestern B.C.

The scale of potential developments being talked about add up to tens of billions of dollars and the result would be a strain on municipal services and infrastructure, Bennett acknowledged.

“You’ll have issues such as schools and hospitals and will they be sufficient,” he said.

“We don’t want another Fort Mac,” said Bennett referring to Fort McMurray where population and business growth spurred by oil sands development quickly outstripped public services.

And he said the topic of revenue sharing would extend beyond gas pipelines and LNG facilities to include mineral and other development stemming from the completion of BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line which is to provide power up Hwy37 North.

Bennett also raised the May provincial election as a factor in LNG developments, saying the choice between re-electing the his current Liberal government or choosing the NDP is important.

“The only question at this point is whose going to be government in the spring,” said Bennett.

Bennett said the topic of the election came up in a meeting last week with officials from Chevron and Apache.

Each has a 50 per cent stake in the planned Pacific Trails Pipeline through which natural gas would flow to a planned LNG plant at Kitimat.

While Bennett said the companies did not express a party preference, “it’s fair to say they’re a lot more secure in going forward with a government that helps,” he said.

“We want to bring forward a [taxation] model that’s competitive with other countries,” added Bennett in referring to LNG development elsewhere.

“We’re a government that understands business and we’re not the kind that kills the goose that lays the golden egg,” he said.

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