Well, I am sure there will be some questioning my spew, but, I figured I would offer my tid bits of wisdom or..maybe simply experience. I see they are all excited, in my old hometown, about the possibility of joining in the big LNG giveaway. Bet they have heard all kinds of fabulous stories on how the town will profit, and how so many will be employed..it will certainly appear that another boom is on the horizon.
I remember the boom and bust days clearly. I remember how the mines would come in, and bring double the amount of families into the community. I remember Christmas parties, and swimming pools, and massive employment for all the students graduating high school, or the boys who headed off in Grade 10 to Trade school, and then into apprenticeships. They were definitely boom days, and good times.
When I arrived here, we came with the very beginning of oil and gas. I attended umpteen Town council meetings, where I listened to, what seemed the whole town speaking against the industry our family was part of. I heard how they feared their town would change and everything they held dear would disappear, with...progress...I went to these meetings to show my support for a small Coal bed Methane company. This company was small, and did everything they possibly could to ease the step into CBM. I supported that company, because they were small, and they truly wanted to keep the community comfortable, and they did.
However...time has painted some pretty vivid pictures, as the small company was bought out, and huge companies have taken it's place. These companies are from elsewhere. They bring their own employees, and these employees work away from home. They don't drag their families along, making the school population rise, they don't shop at the local store, they don't bring up the count at the hospital, they simply drive into whatever camp set up in the boonies, conducive to the company they work for, put in their days, and head home. Our school population has dropped so much, teachers are being cut, classes are lumped together...yes, just like in my old hometown. We have a doctor, finally....bought by a lovely stipend of $100,000 for signing to agree to stay, but...lo and behold, he arrived in September, and now must take 3 weeks holidays, so....yep, you guessed it, no doctor. Our Lab has been cut at the hospital, to so many days here and there.
Are the kids finishing school and heading off to awesome apprenticeships with these companies? Nope. Some do work for them, but they work for two local companies who contract to these mega companies, and that is at a slow down right now, because......everything has been bought up by another foreign company.
We have the Chinese. Now, don't get me wrong, I have met some of the big wigs for the Coal Mines, and they are very pleasant, but...they are also very secretive. Perhaps your council is better than ours, maybe they know the secret of getting a straight answer from another nationality.....maybe...I have to wonder if anyone in my old hometown has heard of TFWs? That is temporary foreign workers....Hey, they are not just folks who pop in for a year or so to work at Timmy's, they work in mines as well.
I am certain there are some very experienced folks putting together things like floating LNG plants (I hope) and anyone wanting a job there is likely going to have to get some schooling in, better get a move on, because there is someone someplace else possibly (likely) far more qualified. These folks are not going to hire Joe Blow off the street, simply because he is local.
Have they purchased homes? Nope...does the school have any notice of families arriving? Nope.
Our small town is simply a name that can be used. There is little positive that the community has received from all of this industry in our backyard. We have some benches donated , I heard tell that the hockey arena got some stuff, as well, the big companies all chipped in to hand over the nice little bonus to the Doctor, but..cripes that took years to put that in motion.
I watched our town council, as they tried very hard to find the best way to work with industry, and, yes, they made some errors. But, I understand, this was all new, and uncharted water. What they do not see is a big increase in tax dollars, they do not see homes and properties being purchased by these industry folks, because they are not part of the community. They are simply people leaving their homes and their families to do a job, so they can pay for their homes and lives elsewhere.All the tax dollars for lease sales, do not end up in our pockets, all that money goes to the province, and it appears they don't like to share with small town B.C.because, they are getting a ton of money from this area of the province.
So, I hope I am wrong. I hope what my old hometown experiences if this does move forwards, is not the norm. I hope that the town does not see camps set up in various places, with men who spend 2 weeks and then head home. I hope this industry actually becomes a part of the town, like the mines in the past did. But..I am willing to lay money on the chance that I am spot on, you will simply find your space filled with Temporary workers, be they Canadian or foreign, and you will find that you have more license plates from another province, and your locals will not be suitable for the jobs required.
I just read how our government is considering dropping some taxes for those huge conglomerates coming in from Asia, good for them, they certainly deserve all the breaks North Americans never got...I am still pro-industry. I am still comfortable with LNG, I actually think it is a good thing, in many respects. I simply wish that our government had offered all these perks to the business when it belonged to this continent, instead of kissing butt because of some backroom political promises Mr. Harper and his cronies made to China.
To those who say, one must take risks to move ahead, perhaps, but remember, this is not something you have the slightest clue about, and most folks who take risks understand full well what the price will be if they lose. I doubt you realize what you are risking, because like Pandora, once that box is opened, you can't slam it shut.That said, with Crusty Clark, and Mr. Harper at the helm, whatever is coming to your door step is not going to wait for your invitation. Times have changed, the Chinese feel right at home in a dictatorship. Fingers crossed, that this is what you have been waiting for.