SOCIO-ECONOMIC FACTORS AND COMMUNITY IMPACTS
Northwestern British Columbia will experience a boom of economic development if LNG facilities and pipelines are constructed. The region is already experiencing an influx of activity. Hotels and restaurants are busy, housing prices are on the rise, and consulting companies are assessing the feasibility and design of the pipelines and terminals. Although communities welcome some economic growth, there are several socio-economic factors that need to be considered.
HOUSING AND LIVING COSTS
Communities, such as Terrace and Kitimat, are already experiencing the boom of LNG development. This puts pressure on housing, leading to increases in housing costs. LNG development and the Alcan expansion in Kitimat have led to less than one percent housing availability and a large spike in rental costs, making it unaffordable for some local residents.
With a projected increase in temporary workers, housing issues could worsen. The larger LNG terminals would each require 3,500-7,000 workers during the construction phase and 200-400 permanent jobs once operational. Although many proponents are committed to hiring locally, government and industry have recognized the need for temporary workers to fill skilled labour shortages. Many of the local residents who have the skill set required for industry-jobs are already working full-time, and so a transient work force would be required to meet construction needs.
If three of the facilities proposed for Kitimat were built, work camps would need to house 10,000 temporary workers - the current population of Kitimat is about 9,000 people. This is just one example of the scale of proposed LNG development in BC
In Australia, where LNG development is well under way, they have experienced a significant spike in local living costs. Housing prices tripled between 2000 and 2013, rent for a three-bedroom house can be as much as $6,000/month and utility rates have gone up substantially. This raises questions about how LNG development may impact living costs in Northern BC communities.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICE PRESSURES
Infrastructure and services – everything from policing to hospitals to sewers – may be strained by an influx of temporary workers. In northern regions where resources are already stretched thin, some municipalities have raised this as a potential problem. At the 2013 Union of BC Municipalities Convention, municipal leaders raised concerns about work camps that would use municipal infrastructure and services, but would be located outside of tax boundaries, and so they would not be contribute to the costs.
The provincial government will be providing grants to municipal governments in Northwest BC to conduct infrastructure assessments and study the impacts LNG development may have on water, roads, sewers and health and social services.
There would be an influx of temporary workers during the construction of pipelines and LNG terminals. This sudden increase in population could disrupt community dynamics, which can lead to increased crime rates.
BC Natural Gas Workforce Strategy and Action Plan
BC Natural Gas Workforce Strategy Committee | 2013
This report provides an assessment of the workforce required for the gas industry, a snapshot of the potential labour supply, and a strategy for addressing labour shortages.
Labour Market Supply Side Environmental Scan for BC’s Natural Gas Sector
The Resource Training Organization on behalf of BC Natural Gas Workforce Strategy Committee | 2013
This report addresses issues related to the supply of labour to the gas industry in BC by examining some key questions:
- What are the potential sources of labour supply?
- What are the challenges related to securing the supply of workers from these sources?
- What are the challenges to developing a workforce strategy for the gas sector?
Understanding the State of Industrial Camps in Northern BC: A Background Paper
Northern Health | 2012
This Northern Health report is focused on worker health and health services at work camps in Northern BC. Through the process of producing the report broader issues and challenges for Northern Health related to industrial camps are identified, including:
- Implications for health care infrastructure and use of services.
- Mental health and overall well-being of workers and their families.
- Problematic substance use and its impacts.
- Public health and communicable diseases.
- Social and health impacts on host communities.
Although local community members and municipal councils have raised significant concerns about the infrastructure and service impacts of LNG development on northern communities, there have not been any substantial local studies done to date.