TERRACE, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Communities across central and northern British Columbia were unanimous in their thanks to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada for its announcement of $130 million to ensure that the Northwest Transmission Line is built along Highway 37.
“This will enable tremendous industrial development and needed jobs in the northwest, as well as economic benefits to all of BC,” said Terrace Mayor Dave Pernarowski. He’s ecstatic that there is now a combined commitment of $390 million including the $260 million previously committed by Premier Campbell for construction and environmental assessments. “This federal investment will ensure that the line can be constructed in a few short years. In Terrace today, there are no longer any major industrial employers and development in the region north of us will have a huge positive impact on our retail, service and supply sectors.”
Mayor Cress Farrow of Smithers, a northwest mining supply community noted, “This announcement will have great spin-offs to the Bulkley Valley communities and validates our decision to lengthen our airport runway for mine expediting and tourism. It is great to have a relationship between BC and Ottawa that is visionary in terms of green transmission development.”
Hazelton has one of the highest unemployment rates in BC. Mayor Alice Maitland noted that Northwest Community College has taken a leadership role in developing the Northwest School of Exploration and Mining to train young people for jobs that will be made possible by the powerline and mine development in the “Golden Triangle” of BC with its wealth of world class mineral deposits.
Even Prince George, the largest centre in the North is poised to take full advantage of the development of the transmission line and the wealth and jobs it will bring to the north. “This is green infrastructure that can power a bio-energy economy in northwest forests utilizing manufacturing technology based in Prince George for wood-pellet plants. It will also enable tremendous carbon savings over mines that would otherwise have to depend on diesel,” said Mayor Dan Rogers. “Prince George sees almost $30 million in spending annually from just the Kemess Mine alone, and we welcome additional industrial development across the North.”
The development of a major power transmission line up Highway 37 has been the focus of discussion for at least the last twenty years. Currently, a small capacity hydro line links Terrace and Meziadin Junction, but the power needs of the communities of Bob Quinn, Iskut, Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek are serviced by costly diesel generators.
Bruce Sutherland, Chair of the Northern Development Initiative Trust, a regional economic development corporation noted, “The tremendous potential for development of the northwest with a potential ten new mines as customers and seven independent power projects delivering clean, green energy into the BC Hydro grid could generate up to 5,500 direct jobs and over 18,000 indirect jobs over the next several decades. Although a number of these projects are at early stage and have a high degree of uncertainty about timing and scope of project development, one thing is certain, without this announcement and a transmission line to deliver and receive additional hydro power, they will not happen. Potential capital investments of $15 billion over the next couple of decades could be enabled by this strategic piece of infrastructure.”
Northern Development Initiative Trust CEO Janine North co-chairs the Northwest Powerline Coalition along with Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Elmer Derrick. The coalition is a grass roots assembly of forty communities and forty-nine other groups and companies, including First Nations, mining and power companies, equipment suppliers, contracting and engineering companies, mining industry associations and First Nations joint venture companies. The Coalition has published “Delivering Green Power to Northwest BC”; a study to understand the business case for the construction of a major transmission line development from Terrace north to the Highway 37 corridor which is inclusive of all potential mines and power projects in the region.
Janine North confirms, “Mine development has the strongest potential for economic diversification of central and northwest BC in the short to medium term. Mining and renewable energy projects present an opportunity for sustainable economic development on First Nations traditional lands including joint ventures and contracts that are so important to the supply sector in northern communities, but, only if there is power. Along with other major stimulus investments across northern BC, this is the right investment at a time when it’s needed most.”
For further information on the Northwest Powerline Coalition, please visit www.highway37.com.
Chief Executive Officer
Northern Development Initiative Trust and
Co-chair, Northwest Powerline Coalition