The Northwest economy has traditionally been based upon natural resource extraction, which has generated tremendous amounts of wealth for the Province but has a long history of boom and bust. There are four natural resource industries that have formed the economic foundation of the region: forestry, commercial fisheries, mining and hydro-electricity.
Yet, over the past five years more than $13 billion has been spent on major capital projects in the region, including pipelines, transmission lines, mines, clean energy projects, port expansions, LNG plant site preparation and an aluminum smelter replacement, just to name a few. At the same time, the provincial government has earned at least $500 million in incremental revenue associated with these projects.
There are currently proposed major industrial projects in the Northwest with a capital cost of $65 billion in process not including LNG. With changes to world energy markets, optimism is increasing that there may be an LNG final investment decision in the near future with capital spending of up to $40 billion, as well.
A situation that was urgent in 2014 has only become increasingly difficult for Northwest BC communities. As development has proceeded, the region has not been able to meet the infrastructure or service needs of industry or Northwest communities.
Little additional local revenue is generated by major capital projects because development is largely outside municipalities and has wide-ranging impacts. Local residents and businesses subsidize the provincial government, creating a significant competitive disadvantage for the region. Here’s a snapshot of projected developments in the Northwest:
Banks Island North Wind Energy Project
Blackwater Gold Project
Kitimat Clean Oil Refinery and Pipeline
Kerr, Sulphurets Mitchell and Iron Cap