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Jobs Minister sensing optimism for Northeast B.C. during two-day tour

Jobs, Trades and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston (centre) and Premier John Horgan photographed in Guangdong during the Premier's 10-day trade mission to Asia in January. Photo by Government of B.C./Flickr
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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston says he senses optimism about the prospects for Northeast B.C.’s economy in the near future.

Ralston is currently on his second day of a two-day in the Peace Region.

The Minister met with mayor Dale Bumstead in Dawson Creek on Wednesday before visiting Louisiana Pacific’s mill in Dawson Creek.

Last August, Louisiana Pacific’s board of directors voted in favour of converting the oriented strand board mill to produce siding, which Ralston says will add 55 jobs once the conversion is complete.

Ralston also met today with the CEO of Conuma Coal in Tumbler Ridge and toured one of its mining operations before he’s scheduled to speak at the annual Coal Forum in Chetwynd late Thursday afternoon. Afterwards, he’s scheduled to meet with Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman.

The Minister says that while the jump in the unemployment rate in Northeast B.C. since the beginning of the year is somewhat concerning, he feels that overall, the local economy is performing and will continue to perform well in the near future.

“Judging from what Conuma Coal’s expansion plans are, from talking to people in the energy business about the market for liquids, that seems to be doing well. AltaGas has started construction on a liquids export facility in Prince Rupert which will be supplied from the Northeast. The prospects here in the Northeast look good.”

Ralston also said that the provincial government is also hoping that LNG Canada will make a positive final investment decision to build a $40-billion proposed liquified natural gas export terminal in Kitimat, which would also be supplied from natural gas fields in this corner of the province.

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When asked about whether the NDP government was stifling possible investment in B.C., as some have claimed in the wake of last week’s Federal Court decisions against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Ralston said that the province remains a very favourable place to do business.

“Generally we are a very competitive jurisdiction for investment, and I think certainly the work the Premier did on the LNG file really speaks to the degree that we take competitiveness seriously and it’s been responded to in this case by the LNG industry.”

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