Recently the electrical power needs of the North Thompson Valley were discussed with our MLA Terry Lake. Mayor Harwood, TNRD Chair Randy Murray, and I, wanted to put forth once again that the valley is stymied for further economic growth without the power grid being optimized and expanded. A little over a week later MLA Lake spoke to the guests at the Barriere Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Reception. During his remarks MLA Lake mentioned that he had spoken to the Minister responsible for Hydro about our power problem. No promises made, but our issue had been brought forward in a timely matter.
It is noteworthy that despite the Legislature being back in session, MLA Lake took the time to come to Barriere for the Business of the Year Reception, as well as the fact that he is consistently working to have issues like the lack of available power resolved for us here in the valley.
In cases like the power issue, time is of the essence as large projects may be held back should obstacles like having the required power not be resolved. Issues such as this speak to the many processes that need to be followed to achieve the desired results. Many of these processes are interrelated and need to progress at the same time.
For example; it would make little sense to spend huge amounts of money to supply power to a large project, and then the project is stalled for some reason, like the environmental assessment aspect of that project has not been finalized, or proper permits have not been obtained. The companies that do the work on major projects are well versed in what they need to do to make the project viable, but still they can fall victim to groups that want to work outside of the process to get their own way.
Federally and provincially mandated programs and processes are complicated. They are in a constant state of flux trying to get the proper results. For example, much has been said and written around the environmental assessment (EA) process over the years. Some changes have been made to the process recently, and these changes have come under criticism. The fact remains though, that there is still a process in place. All parties with an interest in a project that falls under the EA process must take note of the need to follow the rules of the process. This is especially true for groups that feel they have a vested interest.
An elected official may or may not agree with a major project for personal reasons, but to serve their constituents properly they need to trust in the processes that are in place to determine if any proposed project should go ahead.
In my opinion, special interest groups that have what they feel are unresolved issues, should work within the process to effect change. They should not be allowed special consideration just because they form a protest group and rant about their issues. The time to work to get the best possible result is when the discussions are being held, not after. If the process needs change, it is best to work on making the changes within the process, not by erecting barricades and waving signs. This behaviour may ultimately prove to be ruinous to all those concerned, should investors walk away from the project due to fears of instability with respect to support for the venture.
Close knit communities are well aware of what happens when a protesting group causes an economic or social opportunity to fail. Families faced with the prospect of having to move for work, or having the wage earner work away from home are the causalities of the actions of people that often protest just because they like protesting.
If you look closely. you will find the same people on the picket lines ranting at the people trying to build a new mine, and later on howling when there are no funds to build a hospital, or even keep the existing one open.
We need to work together to get jobs and prosperity for everyone. That way we can all be home with our families and be happy.