Challenges Lie Ahead for Resource Sector
Ben Stewart addresses Resource Forum – photo 250News
Prince George, B.C.- “There are huge opportunities if we continue to work together” says Ben Stewart, BC’s Special Representative in Asia.
“Why aren’t we manufacturing for Ikea?” asked Stewart as he presented the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for a variety of resource sectors to delegates at the BC Natural Resources Forum..
Stewart says there needs to be more flexibility in forestry product development.
As for mining, Stewart says mining companies too often got off on the wrong foot with communities and First Nations and it’s a long road back to get things back on track. Mining can help develop transportation links and infrastructure says Stewart, as he pointed to the development of the Northwest Transmission Line which brought electricity to an area in the northwest of B.C.
Natural gas has its challenges too says Stewart, not the least of which is a lack of cooperation to rationalize the cost sharing. “Asia needs LNG, there is no doubt about it” says Stewart as he described the Chinese desire to reduce emissions in an effort to clear the air.
But Natural Resources are not just the typical thoughts of mining, forestry and energy. There are other sectors which are growing throughout BC and across the country. One of them is Aboriginal Tourism. “Visitors are looking for new, authentic experiences” says Keith Henry, CEO of Aboriginal Tourism Canada. There are already 30 thousand people employed in this sector across the country, and Henry says the plan hopes to have more than 40 thousand employed by 2021.
Henry says this tourism sector has grown by 20% and is outpacing the growth of ‘regular’ tourism. In 2015, Aboriginal tourism pumped $1.4 billion dollars into the national economy.
Then there’s ‘ocean farming’. With the world’s population growing, and the demand for food increasing, fish farms are another resource that should be considered. B.C. fish farms exported $1.1 billion dollars in product in 2015. While fish farming is a controversial industry, the Ahousaht First Nation says it has has benefited from working with Cermaq, a Japanese owned fish farm operator.