FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Pro-LNG residents of the Energetic City made their stance on LNG loud and clear for the Province and the rest of Canada to hear.
While rallies were also held in Fort Nelson and Terrace today, over 580 vehicles participated in the preceding convoy heading to the rally in Charlie Lake.
Residents were eagerly watching the trucks drive by on the side of the Alaska Highway as they made their way.
— energeticcity (@EnergeticCity) March 16, 2016
“Honestly, we did not know what quite to expect,” said one of the organizers Kristi Pimm-De Maid. “But when you hear that the whole town is backed up in a traffic jam, that right there tells you that there’s such great support for LNG.”
The lineup of vehicles extended from the Alaska Highway, along the Bypass road, to Northern Lights College.
Pimm-De Maid said the event was running fairly smoothly, considering the few days taken to plan the itinerary of the day. She credited the traffic flaggers for their work directly the almost-600 vehicles that took more than two hours to park in Charlie Lake.
Attendees hear from Mayor of Fort St. John Lori Ackerman, Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm, Prince George – Peace River – Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer, B.C. Senator Richard Neufeld, District of Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser, and Clarence Apsassin of the Blueberry River First Nation.
Once everyone was parked, the dignitaries took to the stage to speak.
Live from the Fort St John for LNG rally.
Posted by Energeticcity.ca on Wednesday, March 16, 2016
“These kids need to have moms and dads who have family-supporting jobs, and that’s what LNG is all about — Family-supporting jobs for each and every one of them,” said B.C. Senator Richard Neufeld.
He urged people to send multiple letters to the Prime Minister, to the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources in support of LNG development.
“I invited all three of them to come,” he said. “Come and see what Fort St. John people want, and today, you demonstrated that.”
Local member of parliament Bob Zimmer recognized Alan Yu, along with Pimm-De Maid, for their efforts organizing the event.
“I think a big part of this is just somebody to get the idea and running with it — and you did today. So thank you for that,” he said.
Zimmer challenged claims from environmentalists that LNG is a hazard to the environment, saying he believes it’s actually good for the environment.
“If you want to give China fresh, clean air to breathe, you give them LNG,” he added. He echoed Neufeld’s request for residents to write to officials, as ‘the other side is writing letters like bandits.’
Clarence Apsassin brought the conversation toward local work, calling himself a big supporter of local companies.
“Supporting the larger companies in our First Nations is much needed, also,” he said to the crowd. “They need that support, too.”
Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm said roughly 240 business vehicles participated in Fort Nelson’s rally, and called LNG ‘a great tool to get our natural gas to the Asian marketplace.’
“It’s going to be great for Kitimat, and Terrace, and (Prince) Rupert,” he said. “It’s going to get our natural gas to the marketplace. That’s what we need to do.”
“You are experts in your field,” Mayor Ackerman said. “It just amazes me how, everyday, we are able to extract and produce natural gas safely — because you know what you’re doing.”
She commended the supporters for attending the rally for an industry that she says ‘must happen.’
“When it’s time to let them know, let them know.”
Mayor of Taylor, Rob Fraser, said it’s time ‘for the silent majority to speak up.’
“The world needs energy. We’re sitting on a world-class, clean energy source,” he said. “The most responsible use for this energy source we have is to get it out to the world.”
Following the speakers finished up, the crowd cheered and shouted.
Kristi Pimm-De Maid: "Your voices do make a difference and will be heard by the federal government." pic.twitter.com/7JkWLGPwN4
— energeticcity (@EnergeticCity) March 16, 2016
A representative with the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association was also in attendance, though he did not address the crowd.
Vice-President of Regional Initiatives Mike Davis said the organization has met with a group of businesses in Terrace that shared similar as the local group out of Fort St. John.
“We just wanted to get together and make a real unified approach here, and get a unified message as we head into a federal decision on LNG,” he said. “We want to make sure that Ottawa and the Province know that this is important to communities and families.”
Davis describes ICBA as ‘pro-business,’ saying the group is here to support and help out any way they can.
“We want work to happen, we want jobs to happen, and we’re very vocal about the projects we support. Anything that we can do to be here to help out the groups in the communities that are at the grassroots level — that’s really what its about, that’s how we were formed. Today is really about the community and about the organizing group.”
Despite the overwhelming support for LNG at the event, there was some attendees who showed resistance to current LNG development.
Bob Fedderly, a local resident of 35 years, describes himself as a promoter of the natural gas industry, but has reservations about developing LNG as an industry based on exporting, and insists it be used domestically.
“I think it’s a great fuel, a clean fuel. But I think we need to start using it ourselves before we start flooding valleys,” he said, displaying a sign that read, ‘No Site C, Run Burrard Thermal’.
“We’ve got this vast resource in place that we could use to generate electricity rather than flood our valleys,” he added, referring to Burrard’s generating station.
The one project on the horizon that FSJ for LNG is immediately behind is the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, which would result in an LNG terminal built off of the north coast.
The $36-billion dollar proposal received over 34,000 public comments during a one-month period.