It formed an imposing procession heading into Terrace from Thornhill just before noon March 17 – approximately 50 work trucks and construction vehicles including a front-end loader decked out with pro-LNG and jobs signs.
One of three rallies timed for that same day with others in Fort St. John and For Nelson, the one held in Terrace saw more than 120 people gather at the west side of the Skeena Mall parking lot to present a voice of enthusiasm, or “yes”, to the proposed LNG industry promised for the north.
Lucy Praught, an industry and First Nations consultant, was one of several who spoke to the crowd along with Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc, accompanied by three members of her council, and Haisla chief councillor Ellis Ross.
The truck drivers, construction and other trades workers who attended the rally found a voice in Amy Rutter who is a fourth-year apprentice electrician at Northwest Community College and her husband Adam, a truck driver who spoke at the rally as well.
Rutter said she wants to stay here with her whole family.
“We can’t stay if there is nowhere for them to work,” she said of her kids. “They will leave home and I will never see them again.”
Leclerc spoke of the city’s stance in recent history to promote the idea of big projects in the area such as the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter modernization project at Kitimat and B.C. Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line.
“I think the message today to Ottawa is that they recognize that if you are going to make really important decisions on economic drivers to British Columbia and to Northwest British Columbia, that you understand where people are at and where people are coming from and where they want to be,” said Praught in comments made after the rally.
With the countdown on for the federal environment minister Catherine McKenna and the rest of the cabinet to make a final decision whether or not to grant an environmental certificate to the Petronas-backed Pacific NorthWest LNG project proposed for Lelu Island, she said that the truck rally will show an unacknowledged groundswell of hope in the region that LNG comes to pass.
“Haisla has been reviewing LNG projects ever since the 80s, when it was talked about an import facility,” said Ross. “In 2004, we started reviewing again for an export facility… while everyone else was playing catch up, the Haisla were trying to wait out the rest of B.C. saying yes to LNG.”
Kitselas chief councillor Joe Bevan was to speak but could not attend. A statement read by Praught in his absence said there was a need for economic development in the area.