Letter: Northern B.C. bustling but it’s adding to our debt load

Economic growth in northern B.C. is good…but LNG/Site C Dam will not pay off our debt.

To the editor:

We did a quick trip to Prince George, not much new there but a vibrant city almost central to B.C., with three working pulp mills and several sawmills of good proportions.

Then, we took Highway 97 NE to Fort St John/Dawson Creek area. Near Dawson Creek we could see that BC Hydro is busy building a massive hydro electric collection system for the new windmills—very positive activity for B.C.

Driving north to Fort St. John, we notice that the 49 miles of highway is being four-laned to accompany a huge amount of both truck and tourist traffic. All land traffic to Alaska and the Yukon uses this road. At the Peace River, the big hill leading down to the river from the south is being rebuilt to four lanes and a new slope. The little town of Taylor is busy with a pulp mill and sawmill as well as a large gas processing plant. Upon entering the south of Fort St. John we notice that the highway is four lanes through town with many new additions of new construction along both sides, both for oil/gas fracking, drilling, supply and repair services.

My brother-in-law lives on a farm overlooking the new Site C Dam area—lake front property. We walked over to the edge of the Peace River bank (about 60 degree slope down to the river) to see the progress. [B.C. Premier] Christy Clark is busy clearing land and trees for the new dam just south of the Moberly River entering the Peace River. So, if you are wondering if the dam is a go or not—work is in progress. Land has been purchased on the Old Fort Road to supply the dam fill required for the huge project. An eight-km long conveyor belt will bring the material to the dam site. Fort St. John is expected to double to 54,000 people in the next 10 years.

Our trip goes back to Prince George then west to Kitimat. At Kitimat, we noticed that three land sites have been partially cleared and signs put up indicating three new LNG [liquified natural gas] projects. There is no hardware visible, no new docks for large LNG ships, no new power lines, no new large natural gas line to supply these three plants but the intentions are there.

We did a day trip to Prince Rupert to learn that the island in question for the huge LNG plant is being disputed by two native tribes—they both claim to own the island. This will further delay the project until the rightful owner is paid the proper sum for the use of the area.

Prince Rupert is a busy town with deep sea loading of containers and farm products. Of course it rained—what a silly question. Of course, we still need the large gas pipe line put into the ground—some day.

The pipe line to Prince Rupert from the Fort St. John area is $7 billion plus the $12 billion for the dam. When the Chinese etc., buy the gas they will burn it or make plastics from it. For a fraction of the $19 billion we could build several natural gas-fired generating plants anywhere in B.C. plus we save 30,000 acres of most prime farmland (only 3 per cent of B.C. is farmland). Should we burn the gas ourselves or spend all this money liquefying and transporting the gas to China? Four generating plants would probably do the same as Site C production for about $4-6 billion.

Of course, if you live in the Lower Mainland and have never visited the area, how can you have a picture of the progress and the possibilities? I hope this will help you to imagine the new industry and where “your” money is spent.

BC Hydro is $70 billion in debt and what is another $12 billion added to that and the $60 billion Christy Clark owes to the banks? It is only money—lets spend more—make sure our grandchildren never will be debt free. LNG will not pay off our debt nor will Site C—that is a fact.

Jorgen Hansen, Kelowna