Published On: Thursday, 08 February 2018

Anti-Pipeline Stand Risks Investment Climate - BCBC

Anti-Pipeline Stand Risks Investment Climate - BCBC

BRITISH COLUMBIA - BC's investment reputation is at risk following the provincial government proposed restrictions on diluted bitumen moving through the province, according to the president of the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC).

“The B.C. Government has raised the question of whether British Columbia is open to investment," said Greg D’Avignon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the BCBC. He added that the government’s decision to move the regulatory finish line on an already approved project, and impose barriers that would undercut its potential, threatens the credibility of Canada's regulatory and project approvals systems.

"This decision has a detrimental effect on BC’s reputation as a place to deploy capital and create private sector jobs. It will directly impact British Columbian families whose livelihoods depend upon well-paying jobs in the construction and energy sectors, and put at risk First Nations’ abilities to more fully participate in the economy," says D'Avignon.

“By blocking access to Canada’s coastline for regulated products shipped through a federally approved project, the provincial government unnecessarily risks harming the Canadian economy and casting doubt on existing regulatory structures that have contributed to the responsible and sustainable development of our nation’s natural resources."

D'Avignon said no one wants to see any form of spill that impacts British Columbia's environment but that risk was addressed by the multiple reviews and analysis of this project focused on spill response and prevention prior to federal approval. The project's approval was subject to 194 conditions and led to the federal government's Oceans Protection Plan.

“Further, this announcement runs counter to the “open for business” message that the B.C. government recently delivered in Asia, where they talked about the benefits of investing in British Columbia. Yet, as the trip ended, the government sent the signal that BC may choose to adjust the rules around project development at any time – even after permits for the project have been issued. The uncertainty and added complexity created by the provincial government's action will damage British Columbia’s reputation as a place to do business."

The Business Council questions whether the province has the legal authority to limit the movement of a federally regulated product through a federally approved piece of infrastructure. This confusion over jurisdiction and responsibility within Canada's federal system further exacerbates uncertainty and lack of clarity for investors.

D'Avignon said his organization will continue to express its concerns to the provincial government, while working with government to strengthen environmental standards and encourage investment.

"We need a climate that welcomes sustainable investment and industrial development in support of people, communities, and the economy. This is essential if Canada’s natural resource products – produced and transported using the highest global standards – are to reach global markets for the benefit of all Canadians,” he concluded.