WHILE the provincial government works doggedly at figuring out how to make billions from the prospect of a liquefied natural gas industry, it has released a plan to spend millions to prepare the groundwork for that same industry.
Based on figures in its 2014 budget, the province is to spend $38 million over the next three years setting up the overall bureaucratic structure in which it expects the LNG industry to operate leading toward environmental and other approvals and once the industry actually starts producing.
Key to this is the involvement of First Nations. Without the benefits of treaties establishing certainty for resource and other development, there’s probably no greater challenge today than determining how First Nations are to take their rightful place at the LNG banquet table.
In this, the province and the First Nations deserve our collective best wishes – for as they chart a course for responsible development, the entire region will prosper.
But even as the province works on First Nations issues, it needs to pay attention to the entire region. So far, other than pumping out the consistent political message that LNG presents an opportunity for a tax revenue bonanza, the province has been strangely absent.
If, as the budget promises, the province “will develop and lead public engagement initiatives,” then those details are badly needed.