Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge have just completed hosting the 2018 Coal and Energy Forum and I want thank those who brought it together and ensured a successful conference. It is no small task to assemble such a diverse group of representatives from industry, First Nations, Local Government, and Provincial Government and, once together, to get us focused in the same direction given that we are such a stubbornly independent and opinionated lot.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t express thanks and appreciation to the representatives of Industry, First Nations, Local Government, and Provincial Government who took the time from their busy lives to be here from as far away as Vancouver Island.
As this was a coal and energy conference, I believe I am correct in assuming that we believe in the roles coal and other forms of energy play in our economy, indeed, in the details of our personal lives.
We have similar goals: We want healthy and sustainable communities, we want to compete successfully in a challenging world market, we insist on environmental integrity, worker safety must be front and centre, and, I dare to write it, we expect reasonable profits for the investors.
Linking all the industries supporting our way of life in our great North East – wind power, bio-fuels, gas, oil, timber, tourism, agriculture, shipping, and coal mining – is one common element: coal – metallurgical coal. Met coal makes up 50% of every truck frame, every gas pipe, every wind tower, every section of train track, every car frame that brings the tourists, the cutting bar on the farmers’ hay bines, the chain on my chainsaw, 50% of many of the things we carry in our pockets and purses, and many of our kitchen devices. Our society cannot continue to function and thrive without met coal.
By the time we concluded the conference, it was well embedded in our minds that working together is the key to success. We need each other. And we need British Columbia, Canada, and the World.
I have a message for the rest of British Columbia: You need us just as we need you. You can’t sustain your way of life without us. No one can exist alone. Not the industrialists, not the retirees, not the lawyers, not the environmentalists
I’ve had several years to observe how we do business and industry; I am confident that we are making huge strides in doing it right and I commend the coal and energy industries for their efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable operations. Not that there isn’t more to learn and better methods to adopt, but our direction is right. Just keep moving forward.
Tumbler Ridge, with a lot of help from the rest of us in the North East, is making great efforts to support and promote the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark: a North East example of doing it right! Here in the North East we intend to show, that though we are a net exporter of goods and the major source of revenue for the rest of the province, we also have appreciation for the things of Creation.
Since the 2017 Coal and Energy Conference in Tumbler Ridge, Caribou Recovery has taken over a lot of our energy and resources. Caribou Recovery is a serious issue on the minds of Senior Governments, First Nations, Industry, Local Government, and a variety of special interest groups. We don`t have time to make mistakes with the caribou and I urge the Provincial Government to sit down with First Nations, Industry, Environmentalists, and Local Government, at the same table, to work through to a solution that is good for the caribou and for all the local communities whose ways of life are threatened – a solution that does it right for all, including the caribou.
We all have much to learn about how to do it right. That learning will include learning how to cooperate with all sectors of our northern society: Industry, First Nations, environmentalists, workers, government, and Creation itself. If we practice integrity and do unto others that which we would like them to do unto us, whether or not they reciprocate, we will have done well.
By the way an ancient proverb has wisdom for the present: “Be diligent to know the state of your ... herds; for riches are not forever.”
Merlin Nichols - Mayor of Chetwynd