British Columbia is the planet’s leader in using the best technologies and standards to get our resources to the world while protecting the environment. Our recent symposium drew together recognized experts to look at how this balancing act will continue into 2017.
At December's Outlook 2017: BC Natural Resources Symposium, Resource Works drew together a diverse array of thought leaders and industry watchers to help us understand trends that will shape the year ahead. Here are some highlights of what attendees at this well attended all-day event heard:
Economist Ken Peacock of the Business Council of BC reported that the foundational role of natural resource exports will continue.
- When the United States grows, resource exports from British Columbia rise. Infrastructure spending and tax cuts promised by incoming president Donald Trump point to continuing growth south of the border.
Revival of the Keystone XL pipeline heralds expanded access to the U.S. for Canadian oil; and Trump may generally favour energy imports from "friendly" nations.
Specific resource sectors
An expert panel drew on a broad range of expertise including:
Mining - signs of growth ahead after years of soft commodity prices.
Forestry - Watch out for a Trump administration making it harder to export our softwood to the US.
LNG - Interest continues in sending BC natural gas overseas to new markets, replacing the oversupplied American market.
Oil - Now that the federal government has approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project through BC, watch for construction to begin.
Clean energy - With over 95 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, British Columbia is recognized internationally as a thriving clean energy pioneer. Next: how can it widen its influence?
First Nations in the economy
Chief Joe Alphonse (Tsilhqot'in National Government) and Chief Ian Campbell (Squamish First Nation) related the real division and distrust First Nations continue to feel towards proponents and governments. We continue to be in a phase of transition:
Nations are business savvy with leaders highly educated in legal, business acumen, social rights and resource development.
First Nations are property owners in key land spaces that impact the transportation of resources.
Work to be done in building cultural ties to our mainstream way of thinking in urban centers and learning of their heritage as part of our own understanding of principles and values they hold.
Guidance and technical know how in areas of resource leadership will smooth the way for progressive leaders who are assessing the opportunities before them.
Keynote speaker Andre Chevigny of Pioneer Log Homes is a well recognized face because of Timber Kings, a reality television show filmed in Williams Lake and syndicated in 160 countries. Andre spoke passionately about BC's special ability to export our forestry best practices to the rest of the world. His company builds homes for global clients who want quality and will pay for Canadian wood because of our certified sustainability standard.
Rural communities are the ones who provide the basic building blocks of the resource economy, making it possible for urban British Columbia to thrive. We heard from Colin Griffith of the North East BC Resource Municipalities Coalition that rural residents often feel left out and that services such as health care are not delivered equally to them. His group is developing a resource charter that will set down principles to follow.
Key issues in 2017 from a maritime shipping perspective include assessing the International Law of the Sea and its impact on the new federal tanker moratorium covering the north coast. The industry is working to better manage risks for killer whales in the Strait of Georgia. Another issue, said Robert Lewis-Manning of the Chamber of Shipping, is congestion at ports caused by delays and issues with inner city roads, bridges and railway links. The maritime community is working to guide federal and provincial governments in new LNG and tanker regulatory frameworks in marine safety standards.
When the people speak
With a provincial election due in 2017, British Columbians have their chance to weigh in on the type of future they'd like to see. We heard from some experts on reading the public mood. (Pictured here: Evi Mustel; Dimitri Pantazopoulos)
Social license: How does it fit into the picture?
We often hear phrases like "governments issue permits, but only communities give permission". Lawyer Paul Cassidy, co-head of McCarthy Tetrault's national environmental, regulatory and aboriginal group, delivered a stimulating presentation on the standing of popularized terms such as social license within the legal and judicial framework. His finding: While it has become popular with politicians, the concept of requiring 'social licence' for resource projects is entirely at odds with the rule of law. For a deeper read on this important topic, check out this article of which Paul Cassidy is a co-author.)
Looking ahead to 2018
Outlook 2017 measured up as a success for Resource Works, so much so that we are already planning Outlook 2018. For the success of the event's first year, Resource Works thanks our event sponsors:
- McCarthy Tetrault, which provided space at its capacious new Vancouver offices
- National Public Relations who lent us person-power to ensure there was solid and well-delivered information and event delivery.
- Nation2Nation which aided us in delivering a comprehensive and well-thought-out program.
- Kevin Brown, who emceed and provided valuable event management counsel.
- North East BC Resource Municipality Coalition