Mere days ahead of LNG Canada’s positive FID announcement Tuesday morning, more than 150 people attended pro-LNG rallies in Terrace and Kitimat last weekend.
Organized by the group The North Matters, the two rallies were meant to “show everyone who came out that they have a place to have their voice heard.”
“It’s really important that we keep this momentum going, to show that the majority does support this,” said David Johnston, chair of The North Matters at the rally. “This isn’t a question of one person being against something, it’s the question of thousands of families being affected if this doesn’t go through.”
Around 60 people came to the Terrace rally at George Little Park on Saturday. Johnston estimated there were over 100 people present at the rally held the day before at the Lower City Centre parking lot in Kitimat.
The shows of support came just days before LNG Canada announced its $40 billion positive investment decision on the $40-billion project Tuesday afternoon. The export facility will super cool natural gas at Kitimat for tanker transportation to Asian customers.
“I almost didn’t have a grasp on the reality of it, definitely very happy about it. It still hasn’t sunk in, but I think this is a great step for the North,” Johnston said following the announcement. To keep the momentum going, Johnston said The North Matters will continue hosting events and rallies for other LNG and resource development projects.
Fourteen northern B.C. mayors whose communities would financially benefit from the liquefied natural gas project wrote a letter in response to Smithers resident Michael Sawyer’s request to the federal National Energy Board to examine whether it has the jurisdiction to review the Coastal GasLink plan to transport natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the planned LNG Canada plant in Kitimat.
“The development of this project would create billions of dollars in taxes for all levels of government which will support programs that are important to all of us, such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and funding for environmental sustainability initiatives,” the mayors wrote.
Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc, who signed the letter, was one of the several who spoke to the crowd on Sept. 29, accompanied by several council members, Kitimat council members and BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross.
“We sit on the brink of a decision that will help diversify and help change the course of our communities,” Leclerc said at the rally.
“When the LNG project goes ahead it will mean an opportunity for good paying jobs that will, in turn, feed our local economies. It means real opportunities for local First Nations to prosper. It means infrastructure being built that will keep both the northeast and the northwest employed for decades.”
Kitimat Coun. Rob Goffinet said he believes the LNG Canada project will “bring the whole northwest together.”
Ross agreed the project is a giant step forward for industry in the region, but there may be some obstacles and challenges that come for Terrace.
“The problem is that Terrace doesn’t get direct revenues, that’s going to be a problem and that’s what I was speaking to here. They’re going to get some of the activity that’s not desirable,” Ross said.
He mentioned while Kitimat will see direct benefit from the project with a lot of contracts and activity, Terrace will remain as the central catchment area for northwest B.C. and will have to prepare for the sudden population influx and increased demand for services.
“You offer all the services, and there’s going to be good coming over. But there’s also going to be some not so good stuff that we’re going to have to deal with. And Terrace is going to try as hard as it can to catch up, and try and get some of that benefit. And I’m in with you.”
– with files from Rod Link