As Mayor of Terrace and a spokesperson for the Highway 37 Powerline Coalition – an organization of communities, First Nations, industrial and economic development groups – I would like to provide some context around the vital importance of the Northwest Transmission Line.
The line will open up an area of northwest B.C. currently off the grid, creating new investment, industrial development and jobs. While the short-term construction costs are significant, the long-term economic benefits are far greater.
In northwest B.C., our economy is resource based, and we are still struggling to emerge from a decades-long economic downturn caused by the collapse of the forestry industry among other factors.
Unemployment levels have run higher than the provincial average. It’s been heart-breaking to see people packing up their families and leaving the towns they grew up in so they can find work elsewhere.
The Northwest Transmission Line is positioned to change all that by providing clean power to facilitate responsible industrial development.
A 2008 report by the Mining Association of British Columbia estimated that by electrifying northwest B.C., the Northwest Transmission Line has the potential to attract more than $15 billion in mining investment alone – creating up to 10,000 jobs and generating $300 million in annual tax revenues to governments.
This is why the Highway 37 Coalition lobbied so hard – and ultimately, successfully – for the Northwest Transmission Line’s construction.
Already we are noticing positive changes in our area.
Clearing and access road contracts to First Nations and Nisga’a Nation, as well as other direct and indirect local employment opportunities from the line’s construction are adding “bustle” back into our communities.
There are more cars on the roads. Business offices are opening and hotels are full as mining projects advance.
Proposals for new hotels and other facilities are appearing in front of Terrace council as developers see new potential in our town.
There’s an air of optimism again.
While I do not want to downplay the cost of the Northwest Transmission Line, it’s important to remember that these costs will ultimately be borne by the mines and other industrial customers who will be using the line.
And it’s important to understand that improving the economy of Northwest B.C. will ultimately benefit our entire province.
Dave Pernarowski, Mayor,
Highway 37 Powerline Coalition