FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – With the election just around the corner, Energeticcity.ca will be profiling each candidate during the week of May 1. Each candidate has been asked 10 questions that are related to the North Peace.
The last candidate in the series is Independent candidate Jeff Richert.
- Should the Site C project be sent to the BC Utilities Commission for review?
Answer: The Site C project should absolutely be sent to the BCUC. The project was approved without any analysis of how the estimated $9 billion dollar cost of building the project would impact Hydro rates and we are already seeing evidence this project was a big financial mistake. This is an exceptionally important question that the BC Liberals refused to answer. I am very concerned about future rate increases and the financial impacts of such increases on seniors, people on fixed income and low income families.
- How do you envision strengthening the relationship with First Nations?
Answer: The first step is to vote out the BC Liberals who in one breath preach reconciliation with First Nations and then in the next breath build Site C which will destroy over 10,000 years of First Nations history. My vision is to have all levels of regional government and First Nations communities united with a single voice and specific issues that once addressed, help everyone together.
- Is the ‘Fair Share’ agreement the best deal?
Answer: The ‘Fair Share’ deal was a job well done given the realities that the parties representing the Peace Region did not have any serious leverage over the Province during the negotiations. It is the best deal we could have received given those circumstances but more is needed to address the impacts and issues Peace Region residents face in their day to day lives.
- How do you think the Province should go about in getting the best deal when it comes to the Softwood Lumber dispute?
Answer: I think the Province should focus on bringing to the table a solid plan and steps that provide a balance in addressing the United States concerns. This approach should focus on prevention of the Softwood Lumber dispute from ever occurring again. This cyclical fight needs to stop and the Province should be focusing their efforts in determining a workable solution that keeps forest sector free from future softwood lumber disputes.
- The Clark government said that LNG would be up and running by now and since it hasn’t, do you see LNG starting up in the next four years?
Answer: I expect to see the Fortis LNG upgrade and the Woodfibre LNG projects being completed within the next four years given they have had positive final investment decisions. The long term viability of the LNG sector in BC is clouded with uncertainty and an industry reeling from the cost inflation of large scale projects around the globe. The case for small scale projects appears to be the more preferred route for proponents moving forward because it reduces the financial risk.
- The Taylor Bridge is a key part of infrastructure that residents are calling on to be replaced. What are your plans for the bridge?
Answer: I would advocate for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) to inform Peace Region residents of the Taylor Bridge situation and request the initiation of public consultations to determine the best course of action to replace the bridge with costs estimates and time lines. We need a plan to replace the Taylor Bridge and we need transparency as to how and when such a replacement could take place.
- Communities are facing shortages in the Peace when it comes to doctors. What would your plan be to get recruitment up and get more doctors here?
Answer: I would like to see a meaningful increase in the Northern Living Allowance in order to attract and retain qualified professionals in the north including doctors and also explore student loan deferrals and living allowances that attract doctors to stay in the region permanently.
- What is your long-term plan for the regional economy?
Answer: I would like to see the regional economy have a foundation of long term, high paying jobs. It is important for our area to shelter itself from the boom and bust cycle and have a diversified and stable foundation of jobs. One area I would like to see increased diversification is in the energy sector. I would like to see a series of geothermal pilot projects initiated in the Peace Region in order to determine if geothermal is a viable source of power. If viability is proven, a growing geothermal industry in the Peace Region would create new jobs and give the oil and gas service sector a revenue stream outside of the oil and gas industry.
- With the announcement that the Federal Government is aiming to have marijuana legalized by July 1, 2018, what would you like to see the Province of B.C. do in terms of Provincial guidelines/regulation?
Answer: I would like to see the Province treat marijuana like alcohol and tobacco. An enforcement regime in place that punishes marijuana use in public and driving while under the influence similar to alcohol would be a prudent measure with serious penalties similar to those for drinking and driving.
- What are your thoughts on the environmental impacts of fracking?
Answer: I recognize that the invention of hydraulic fracturing was a game changer in the oil and gas industry and an important aspect of delivering cheap energy to consumers. I am concerned about the long term impacts of fracking on groundwater and aquifers especially with regards to the migration of contaminants due to casing failure. I would like to see government and industry invest more time and money in understanding the presence of groundwater and reducing impacts of fracking activities on ground water formations.