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Chamber sounds alarm at Canada’s growing divisions over infrastructure project failures

Announcements, News Releases | Feb 20, 2019

The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce sounds alarm at Canada’s growing divisions over infrastructure project failures

Abbotsford – February 20, 2019 – According to the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, the very fabric of our country is being threatened by the devastating impact of low oil prices, our inability to get energy resources to global markets and the increasing tensions between Canadians who live in resource-producing regions and other parts of Canada.

Natural resources remain by far Canada’s largest export sector.  Energy and energy-related products are a significant part of British Columbia and Canada’s annual exports.  Along with metals and mineral products, energy products represent the single largest positive annual contribution to Canada’s balance of trade.

Across Canada energy commodities generate direct and indirect wealth through the production and export of coal, oil, natural gas, and electricity.  These commodities already support tens of thousands of direct, indirect, and induced jobs.  There continues to be an unprecedented opportunity for Canada’s energy products to play an even greater role in the economy, to the benefit of all Canadians.

The Chamber supports our resource development industries and the associated infrastructure such as pipelines, that grow our economy and create jobs.  One key piece of infrastructure to unlock is the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline (TMX) project.

In communities along the proposed pipeline corridor, annual property tax payments to more than 20 local governments and more than 24 Indigenous communities are expected to more than double to $52.4 million from $25.9 million per year, supporting community services such as police and fire protection, recreation and infrastructure or can be used to reduce the size of property tax increases.

Abbotsford is projected as the second-largest municipal beneficiary, forecast to receive $1.3 million in additional taxes for a total of $3.36 million.  Additionally, it is estimated that, during construction, Abbotsford will see $193 million in construction spending.

As well, there will be $18.1 million in local spending by local and non-local workers:

  • $6.8 million on accommodation
  • $3.4 million in food
  • $946,000 on recreation
  • $867,00 on personal items and services
  • $617,000 on fuel

Our regional districts stand to benefit with the Fraser Valley Regional District tax payments up $1.3 million to $2.3 million.

It should be emphasized that project safety and integrity measures have been studied and planned for extensively by the proponent, including marking and protection of sensitive environmental lands during construction, pipeline spill prevention, emergency preparedness and response to land base and marine environments in the event of a spill.  Trans Mountain requires its contractors to have Indigenous monitors on its environmental inspection teams at all construction areas, advising on traditional land use and cultural values.

While the TMX project is moving forward in the national interest is encouraging, the need for federal tax payers to have purchased this project last year, exposes fundamental flaws in the regulatory systems at all levels of government.

In December 2018, after the federal government’s announcement of $1.6 billion to assist strained oil and gas industry companies hard hit by plummeting crude prices the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce stated:

“… the $1.6 billion dollars to support Canada’s struggling oil and gas sector is a band-aid, not a cure for what ails Canada’s oil and gas sector” …“The country’s struggle to get our energy products to global markets, where they can get a fair price, is the issue.  It is a failure that hurts the entire country,” said Mr. Beatty.  “That pain will continue until we finally build much-needed pipelines.

We are joining hundreds of other chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country today to demand immediate improvements to Canada’s broken regulatory system to ensure our energy resources get to international markets.

The economic impact of the discounted price Canada’s oil receives is well-documented.  By some estimates, Canada’s economy loses approximately $80 million a day because we are beholden to one customer, the U.S., at a time when that country is increasingly energy self-sufficient.

“Canada’s economic well-being is at risk, in addition to political and regional tensions straining the unity of our country.  We need to come together as Canadians to deliver a pointed message to politicians in Ottawa and across the country: the businesses in your jurisdictions want you act and act now,” said Mark Warkentin President, Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.

“The first priority is to fix Bill C-69. The government also needs to implement the regulatory changes promised in the Fall Economic Update and make immediate plans to get our resources to tidewater.  Canadians have had enough of the talk.  We want to see real, concrete actions,” added Mark.

There is enormous demand for Canadian energy products, which are some of the cleanest and most ethically-produced in the world, to displace coal as an energy source within growing economies like China and India.  Canada is squandering an opportunity to put more money in the pockets of every single Canadian and fight climate change at the same time because of the endless political bickering.

Katerina Anastasiadis
katerina@abbotsfordchamber.com