What Is Resource Development Doing to the North?
Prince George, B.C. – A discussion on the cumulative impacts of resource development in northern B.C. is about to begin in an effort to gather research, perspectives, practical experiences and concerns of a broad base of partners including community leaders, business, First Nations, researchers and government.
The Cumulative Impacts Research Consortium is holding the first of several community outreach initiatives at UNBC this weekend. The public event marks the formal launch of the consortium, which is looking at question of how we “start to develop a broader strategy for how we develop sustainable land use plans for our environment, sustainable for local economies and certainly, for sustainable health.”
CIRC Project Lead Dr. Chris Buse says the consortium is based at the Prince George campus of UNBC and brings together experts, knowledge and resources from three existing UNBC institutes: the Community Development Institute, the Health Research Institute and the Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute. Dr. Buse says “the three of them came together with their faculty leads and they said hey, we’ve got a ton of expertise here at UNBC on various facets of this resource development question. They said hey, this cumulative effects buzzword keeps getting tossed around. You know the vast majority of these new developments in terms of pipelines, oil and gas exploration, certainly the mountain pine beetle reclamation, all of these things are happening in conjunction with one another across the north.”
“And so through those collaborations we received some funding from the Pacific Institute For Climate Solutions, which is based out of Victoria and some additional funding from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission to start this consortium. For the past few months we’ve been working kind of behind the scenes trying to develop partnerships and relationships with folks and really trying to figure out, what are the needs, what could a consortium, a collaboration of partners and actors from industry, First Nations groups, the research community, the government community, how can we all come together and really start to improve our understanding of the processes and pathways by which resource development impacts northern communities?”
So the answer to those questions is the launch of the first CIRC community initiative, which begins at 6 tonight and continues from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow at UNBC’s Canfor Theatre. Tonight it’s a networking event and a moderated keynote panel discussion on the cumulative impacts of resource development across the north. Saturday includes a number of interactive workshop modules and panel presentations on government and First Nations’ responses to the impacts of resource development.
Speakers include Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Chief Terry Teegee, Northern Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Sandra Allison, Northern Central Local Government Association President Brian Frenkel and Jennifer Psyllakis, the Manager of Land and Resource Use with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Dr. Buse says “from the consortium’s perspective the one thing that we’re really concerned with isn’t necessarily the environmental or community impacts of a single well being driven. It’s some of the shortcomings in conventional assessment protocols that might not consider the hundred well that that one well pad is sitting next to. So it’s these cumulative effects, it’s the fact that the landscapes across the north have such long and rich and storied histories around resource development.”
“All these things contribute to the social and environmental and economic well-being of those communities across the north. The challenge is that to date no one has really been looking at that big picture and really trying to think about what all those multiple land uses actually mean to the sustainability of those communities. That’s kind of what we’re hoping to contribute to.”