The purpose of the visit, according to Ralston, is to gain a better understanding of the different elements required from the northern region before the province implements their plan to construct LNG facilities.
“There are concerns about the return in taxes to the province, the environmental impact, whether it will be jobs for British Columbians and Canadians, and also the impact on our climate legislation as well,” explains Ralston. “Lots of opportunities there and we’re looking at the details – that’s our job to make sure it’s the best deal for British Columbians.”
Ralston says after visiting Encana, he is however already impressed with their drill site and compression station at the new water treatment hub, particularly the practice of recycling water from previous fracking expeditions, as well as the process of providing produced water and saline water.
“It’s also in their business interest to, in the long run, reduce their requirements for water by recycling the water that comes out of the production process,” says Ralston. “So it will save them money and is probably better for the environment.”
Ralston says he’s taking what he learns today in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John to the next legislative assembly.
“We’re (the opposition) not going to be afraid to express our opinion where it’s necessary; but I think it’s also important, before making criticism, to also understand the industry, and the jobs it brings and the prosperity it brings,” Ralston goes on to say. “So that’s in large part why I’m here.”
Ralston concludes by saying there is an obligation from the affected municipalities to ensure the adamant of LNG doesn’t overshadow the needs of residents.
“Certainly that’s what the mayors will be talking about down in the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference this week; about the strain on infrastructure – whether it’s on roads here, whether it’s on availability of physicians, whether it’s on schools or post-secondary education.”
Ralston adds, “All of those things need to keep pace with the rest of the economy if you’re to have a balanced and livable community.”