Kitimat Celebrates LNG Decision

Premier John Horgan was among the dignitaries on hand Saturday, as Kitimat area residents celebrated last week's final approval of the LNG Canada project.

Tuesday's announcement that the massive project going ahead set off all sorts of celebrations in Kitimat, culminating in a huge fireworks display Saturday night at the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club.

[Cover Photo:  Cutting the cake in Kitimat:  LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz, Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith, Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth, BC Premier John Horgan -- Oct 6, 2018   --  CFTK]

Hours before the fireworks, there was a special cake-cutting ceremony at Tamitik Arena, with Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith and Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth sandwiched between LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz and Premier John Horgan. 

Horgan says this will mean new opportunities for the northwest -- and especially for young people.

"I heard someone -- it was Phil, I think -- say earlier today that this is an extraordinary opportunity for someone coming out of high school can now look at a whole range of opportunities in their hometown, right across the corridor, whether it's in Fort St John, Burns Lake, Fort St James, all across the north young people will have an opportunity to stay and work and thrive in their home communities and that's extraordinary," said Horgan.

The construction phase will require thousands of workers to complete, which will put a tremendous strain on local infrastructure.

That worries some people, but LNG Canada External Affairs Susannah Pierce says there are lessons to be learned from other mega-projects.

"Kitimat being a town that's seen industry before, they've seen construction before -- it's a great thing but it's also something we've learned from so we've learned:  how do we reduce impacts, for example, on traffic? -- that is where we've put the camp right next to site;  how do we make sure we're cognizant of what's happening to people who live in apartments? -- let's make sure we have a housing policy that incentivizes or builds housing for our staff when they come and if necessary we buy," she said.

Pierce says the project's approval demonstrates what can be accomplished when everyone comes together.

"It was a decision that was made with these companies that could go anywhere in the world to invest, it was a decision that was made with communities that could say no, and with First Nations that could say no, and governments that could say no, and we all came together and we said YES so I think from that perspective, it's fantastic and it's huge!"

Some environmental groups and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver believe LNG development will lead to more pollution and will steer the province away from its emission targets.

Horgan admits there will be challenges in meeting the province's Climate Action Plan once the plant is in production but he says he's convinced those  challenges can be met.