FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Back in town for his fourth trip to the Peace, Executive Director Stewart Muir of the Resource Works Canada hopes he will get to talk to residents and families about what natural resources and the potential LNG industry means to them.
Over the last two years, he has worked with the NEBC Regional Municipalities Coalition, where he says he’s seen community leaders strive for solutions to economic downturns.
“They’re all struggling with the same problems of making that sure people who live in those places have the things they need,” he said. “That seems to be driven by every industry that’s up there.”
Muir is scheduled to speak at the UBCM Mayor’s Caucus on Monday night, and will be speaking to the Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce, North Peace Secondary School students and FSJ for LNG on Tuesday.
His visit comes as the pro-LNG voice hopes its message is received by the government. FSJ for LNG held their second rally earlier this month, and had a visit from B.C. Premier Christy Clark, who enthusiastically urged the federal government to let B.C. help recharge the economy.
The silent majority, as some have called them, seems to have broken their silence and is making their support of pipeline projects heard.
Muir says people on the pro-side likely didn’t voice their opinions before because they’re busy people — between hours of schools, hours of work, and hours of everything else in between.
“Now, we’re seeing tougher times, we’re seeing people losing their jobs, we’re seeing people wondering how they’re going to keep the mortgage payments going,” he added.
“Those people are the ones we’re hearing from now.”
The impact the downturn has had on family lives will be one topic addressed during his speeches. But, Muir will also be touching on the future of the natural resource economy with high school students, who are just how deciding what path to take.
“There’s just no question that we’re going to have a high component of natural resource activity in the British Columbia economy long into the future,” he said. “It’s going to rely on innovation and increasingly high-tech skills sets.”
According to Muir, a worker from the Peace region contributes six times more to the economy as the average worker in B.C. — as one job in northeastern B.C. can create as much as $200,000 in exports.