For a free-enterprise government elected on the promise to grow the economy and create jobs, the announcement to formally reject the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion was disappointing.
Rejecting Kinder Morgan’s twinning of their existing pipeline, which has been operating safely in B.C. for 60 years sends the wrong message to companies looking to do business in B.C. Effectively, our international reputation as a hard place to get things done is cemented by our own government. Even with many key advantages — abundance of resources, skilled workforce, leading-edge environmental management expertise, and a strategic position on global trade routes, why would they invest in B. C.?
Yes, we must take a responsible and balanced approach when it comes to the development of our resources. Yes, we must do it in a manner that safeguards the environment and protects the community. And yes, it is essential to mitigate risks and incorporate a high standard of environmental review, ensuring the least amount of harm.
Equally important is supporting and getting proposed projects to ‘yes’. Not just because of the jobs they create but because of the economic benefits British Columbians can enjoy. The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project alone will create more than 108,000 person years of employment and generate $18.5 billion in revenue for social services, health care, education and other government services.
When sensible and responsible proposals for new resource and infrastructure development are brought forward, like the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, proponents like Kinder Morgan need to know that when they adhere to strict regulatory conditions, meet the highest safety standards and earn the support of the community, that they have support of politicians, too.
If the comprehensive undertaking alone of a 16,000-page application, 17,000 questions to respond to and participation of hundreds of intervenors and more than 1000 commenters isn’t enough. Then we need to ask, what is? If we can’t get responsible development right here, where can that happen?
Rather than saying no, the provincial government has to be crystal clear on how to meet their five conditions and work with Kinder Morgan to achieve it. Because 84 per cent of British Columbians support responsible development. It’s what they voted for three years ago and what they will vote for again a little over a year from now.
Philip Hochstein is the president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C.