Coming out of COVID-19 and just beginning to see the fallout, with businesses and charities closing down, can be depressing. Not only have we shut down vast parts of the economy for over three months, but we have also spent money like never before, buying a second and probably third mortgage on this home we call Canada.
The way to dig ourselves out of a money pit is to spend less than we earn. Unless we are willing to slash our healthcare and education spending, our only option is to earn more. The bright spot, if we can learn to stop apologizing for everything Canadian, is our resource sector. In it lies the chance to pull ourselves out of the COVID-hole we dug with jobs and money to pay off our debt. It’s a win-win.
There is vast potential for expansion of the resource sector in Canada. B.C. is home to many of the natural resources the world wants and needs. Here in P.G., at UNBC, we have the new engineering programs that will educate a new group of people who would like to settle here, but they have to have job and business opportunities to entice them to stay. As our annual timber supply is reduced, those who have been laid off need new jobs. Wouldn’t it be nice if our recent graduates, and those that have started their families already, could stay in Prince George and not have to leave to find opportunity?
Locally, we have at least two projects that could build those opportunities and to increase our prosperity. These projects could begin to provide part of the boost we need. BC Hemp Corporation and West Coast Olefins are two projects which will produce thousands of high-paying jobs if they go ahead. Not only jobs, but the spinoffs from these two projects alone would build up local manufacturing capacity which would help bring Prince George businesses up to a level where they could compete for the big jobs, instead of always showing up as the little guys. We could finally be a city to move to, again, instead of from.
For that to happen, these projects have to get off the ground. They have to get from permitting, to building, to producing. To that end, a new project advocacy group has been formed. Their growing list of corporate sponsors are recognizable as businesses that sponsor kids' sports teams, athlletes, and other non-profits. Their mission is: “Advocate sustainable use of Natural Resources within British Columbia through community, Indigenous, and Government engagement and consultation to promote the development and implementation of world-class environmental stewardship and manufacturing technologies. Encourage local and provincial governing bodies to enact legislation for the protection and sovereignty of British Columbia's natural resources value-added sector, establishing BC as a viable and diverse hub of industry and commerce.”
This new group is called The BC Resource Coalition. You can find them online. They have hit the ground running with an aggressive publicity campaign. They have already done live town-halls online with northern mayors, local business owners, and project promoters. You can watch their archived townhalls at https://www.thebcrc.ca/facebook-live-townhalls/. Their weekly live podcasts run Thursday evenings at 7:15 and you can watch them at https://www.facebook.com/watch/thebcrc.ca/
And they have cool swag that says stuff like “BC Resources, #whyshouldyoucare”
This group is another example of people not giving up on the north, on Prince George, on B.C., and Canada. It’s encouraging to know there are others with hope, and I wish them every success.