Premier Christy Clark toured Terrace and Kitimat last week, and spoke to the benefits of LNG at a meeting hosted by the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce.
The visit to Kitimat capped off two scheduled stops in Terrace, where she announced $465,000 in training funding for the Northwest Community College.
She had no specific announcements to make when she spoke to the business community at the Kitimat Valley Institute on Thursday afternoon but did continue to speak to the future benefits of liquefied natural gas (LNG) developments in the Northwest.
She said its her desire that communities like Kitimat get “their fair share” for LNG developments and spoke to the proposed Prosperity Fund the BC Liberals have suggested to collect the royalties and taxes from developments relating to exporting natural gas.
Through that fund she said the province’s debt could be paid off over 15 years, a number she said was taken from conservative estimates of what the province would take in over 30 years from natural gas.
She explained that number is based on just two or three LNG facilities opening in the Northwest, which she said could bring in $100 billion over 30 years.
When asked if there is a plan to address social services in town which are even now feeling a strain from an initial wave of people to town (see page 6 for more on how the Kitimat Council is trying to deal with that), she said that is being addressed through, among other ways, visits by government minister Bill Bennet, who was in town recently taking stock of the needs and challenges of the community. (Sentinel, February 13, page 1).
She said the Prosperity Fund would also be used to address the needs in communities.
She acknowledged while speaking to media later that LNG facilities are not yet running and that the math regarding how much will go into the Fund isn’t yet finalized but said she is confident that it will work out to a good deal for the province.
Comparing LNG developments to Canada’s oil sands, she said that natural gas and its exports could represent a larger economic impact than oil, and LNG, she said, is far cleaner.
As for the money for the college, the $465,000 is set to come from the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement.
That agreement set up one-time funding of $7 million for post secondary and training institutes to seek short-term training opportunities, designed to meet labour needs in the region.
Clark did spend time in Kitamaat Village, meeting with Chief Councillor Ellis Ross and taking an aerial tour of the proposed LNG sites. She had no dedicated time set to meet with District of Kitimat councillors save for at KVI.
Mayor Joanne Monaghan, who was at the KVI event, said that she had her chance to speak to the Premier as well and aired some issues and concerns for the District, but she said at this time she wouldn’t specifically say what those issues were.
“I brought to her attention some of the things council has been looking at and wanting answers to,” she said. “I was assured that she or someone in her office would be getting back to me.”
“So with that I was happy.”
Meanwhile, in the days leading up to Clark’s visit, she announced a five-year freeze to B.C.’s carbon tax.
The carbon tax is budgeted to raise $1.2 billion in the fiscal year that began April 1, with all revenues required to be returned through personal and business income tax reductions.
B.C.’s carbon tax was a political battleground before the 2009 election, with former NDP leader Carole James campaigning for it to be scrapped.
– With files from Tom Fletcher