When I was a kid I remember that provincial governments used to fall over themselves to bring industry and jobs to a region. It was a point of pride and a sure way to win the next election if you could bring prosperity to your voters.
Now it seems that the province is falling over itself to deny industry. ‘Tough on resource industry’ is the new mantra. The government is responding to what seems to be the voting public’s rejection of environmental harm. I say ‘seems to be’ because it’s difficult to get an accurate picture of how the majority actually feels about the intense resource development proposed for Northern B.C.
The media does not much spend much time dwelling on the implications of shutting down industry, and it doesn’t go out of its way to find people in favour of development. Protests in Victoria provide better photo-ops than board meetings, and the easiest quote to count on is from the environmental lobby.
Laying into Enbridge in Prince George is easier than asking what, exactly, we’re supposed to do for work in Northern B.C. if we take the position that only zero risk is acceptable. If we decide not cut trees or mine minerals and gold because we don’t have a 100 per cent solution to sustainability issues, what replacement industries do we have in mind?
The easiest way to make sure we never have a timber supply crisis, or a sullied water, or a broken pipeline is to reject all industrial activity. That may be a stupid idea, but it’s no less ignorant than defining opposition to environmental risk in entirely binary terms. If we’re waiting for the solution that offers no risk with great reward, then we might as well line up for lottery tickets.
Cities and towns across the northern region are facing immanent budget crunches as aging infrastructure starts to fail. In Burns Lake coun. Susan Schienbein expressed concern that the federal government will not be coming through with infrastructure dollars any time soon.
The Village of Burns Lake awaits the implementation of ‘asset management’ software with will allow staff to input infrastructure variables into number crunching software that spits out what needs to be spent, and when, to stay on top of the mundane but vital things that keep a community running smoothly, like drainage, sewage, road works and the maintenance of existing public facilities.
This software should be ready for strategic planning in early spring. To get an idea of what Burns Lake might be looking at once this management system is up an running, I’ll quote from a statement made by the City of Prince George.
‘We are not investing enough to repair and replace the city’s infrastructure,’ reads a recent Prince George city council statement.
Currently, P.G. is considering options like limiting snow removal, increasing user fees for services, and selling off public assets to find dollars to keep the city healthy.
Natural resources built Northern B.C., and categorically shutting down that revenue stream will undo the north.