Stewart Muir looks at how it is that British Columbia remains so strongly identified with natural resources.
B.C.’s forestry, energy and mining industries are the economic foundation of our province, yesterday, today and tomorrow. They are essential to job creation in every B.C. community. Families have been working in the resource economy for generations and they will continue to for generations to come, taking pride in the work they do.
It’s rewarding, high-technology work that builds strong families and communities. Two out of every three dollars in B.C. are generated in the resource regions but spent throughout the province's economy. And this may come as a surprise, but more than half of new natural resource jobs are located in the Lower Mainland.
These jobs pay the highest of any industry and are more likely to be full time. This is surely linked to the fact that jobs in resource-producing regions have up to six times the GDP impact than the average British Columbia job.
In addition to jobs, our natural resources help to pay local taxes for communities that need them, and fund critical services we rely on like healthcare and education.
B.C. companies work hard to meet federal and provincial environmental standards, knowing that it pays to innovate and exceed standards and be a world leader. And when we make mistakes—everyone does—we choose to learn and improve.
B.C. has a proud history of environmentalism that provides the foundation for responsible resource development. B.C.’s resource economy helps drive the development of world-leading environmental best practices and investments in clean tech innovations. When we export our cleaner B.C. resources, such as LNG, we can help other countries reduce their unhealthy practices that damage the global environment.
Developing British Columbia’s natural resources can be a risky business. It has taken many years to develop a safety culture and there is still much work to do. It requires many partnerships among British Columbia’s workers, unions, communities, regulators and companies to keep us safe and to work to make us safer. And when there are mistakes, we need to continue to learn and improve. These are values that have always been recognized by elected leaders no matter their particular perspectives.
B.C.’s natural resources have shaped where we live in the province with towns that were built around a mill, port, smelter, or river.
B.C.’s resource economy creates jobs and skills training opportunities in rural areas through specific resource projects. Building these projects pumped $108 billion into the economy over the past two decades, second only to housing in capital investment terms. Thousands of new businesses were incorporated as a result.
British Columbia has an important role in Canada as the gateway for resource exports to growing parts of the world. B.C. also has important cultural links to Asia and South Asia that we can capitalize on for everyone’s benefit.
Being the Pacific gateway means our resource and transportation sectors are completely linked. They need each other to thrive. Having the ability to export our resource products to both North American and Asian markets means that we can always get the best prices for our Canadian products.
Although other parts of the economy may struggle in competitive global markets, when it comes to resources British Columbia has a lot of unique advantages. The continuing diversification of resource-based product lines comes at a time when responsibly produced commodities are in greater demand than they have ever been in the history of humanity.
There are many challenges to developing natural resources successfully. As we celebrate B.C. Day on August 7, it is impossible to imagine our success as a province without the daily contributions made by resources and resource people.
Photo: Victoria's Fisgard Lighthouse. Adobe image.