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Resource Development Dating Game

By Sarah Artis of SNCIRE

This opinion piece was published in several newspapers around Northwest BC and the Lower Mainland, including the Vancouver Sun, this past summer.

Suitor-ShutterHere's what's happening in Northwest B.C. right now. We (residents) are suddenly the belle of the natural-resources ball. Many suitors (LNG, mining and oil companies) are vying for our hand (social licence and support). We're interested in being courted because relationships come with many benefits (jobs, skills training, tax revenue, etcetera).

But we are overwhelmed by the attention and don't know exactly how to deal with it.

First, it's really hard to get to know each suitor and understand what they are all about—especially when many look the same from the outside.

Then, when we start to talk to the suitors and get to know them, we aren't sure whether to believe what they say. We're slow to trust because we know from previous relationships that people can make big promises and fail to deliver.

We're also a little uncomfortable with the suitors' wooing techniques, which are a little different from what us small-town girls are used to. While they are trying to impress us with shiny gifts (swags and sponsorships), catered parties (open houses), and fancy clothes (literally dressing up for business meetings), we'd prefer to have them over for a home-cooked meal and simple conversation so we can get to know them better.

Also, instead of talking to us directly, many are going through our guardians (councils and economic-development offices). Sure, these people are our family and know us pretty well, but they don't know exactly what we want.

Anyway, we want to have our say. This is our life and our future we are talking about.

Like anyone in the beginning of a relationship, we want to be heard and understood. We want suitors to see us as real people, not just prizes to be won. And we definitely don't want them to tell us not to worry, that they've got it all figured out. That only makes us worry more and trust less.

Everyone in our region seems to understand we are now in the dating game. Some are excited about the prospects. Others are afraid. Many are simply overwhelmed—and common reactions to feeling overwhelmed are procrastination and tuning out.

So instead of enjoying all the attention we are getting, many of us are reluctant to engage with these suitors, let along enter into a serious relationship with them. It's risky and much easier to turn the other way. Even worse is when you do take that risk and then feel that you're in over your head because you don't know all the rules of the game (details about each project, how the projects fit together, government policies surrounding natural-resource development, environmental-assessment processes, etcetera).

Realistically, though, no one has a complete picture at this time. The amount of development proposed for Northwest B.C. right now is unprecedented. Combine that with thousands of residents with different thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the situation as a whole and each project, and it's even more complicated.

Something needs to change so that interested regional residents can and are encouraged to take an active role in this dating game. Maybe all the suitors from the same industry need to look beyond competition, present their information together, and aim for a well-suited match instead of simply winning.

Or maybe a higher power (provincial government?), with or without industry's help, should fund and facilitate a process, body, or person that allows Northwest B.C.ers to scope out a vision for the region's future, decide what kind of suitors we want, and assess those suitors accordingly.

Or maybe it's simply up to regional residents and communities to overcome their differences and talk and listen to each other—no matter their stance—and figure out what would benefit the region as a whole. Then we could approach industry and government with our demands as a powerful, united front.

Either way, we all know that healthy relationships are built on certain foundations: honesty, a willingness to understand the other parties and their needs, and to try to meet those needs and, at times, put their needs before our own.

We shouldn't expect a fairy-tale ending where everyone lives happily ever after. However, if we and our suitors are willing to work within the confines of these foundations, we may just be able to get to know and understand each other, work together, and develop meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.

Because we all know relationships can be a lot of work but, if done right, are worth it in the end.

Sarah Artis lives in Terrace, B.C. She works for SNCIRE, a nonprofit that identifies, develops, and promotes opportunities to build a resilient and sustainable natural-resource economy in the Skeena-Nass region. She feels excited, afraid, and overwhelmed by the development happening in Northwest B.C.

Forest Economy Renewal Strategy

FPII project NW Bednar-FII-1610 12212 with creditWith help from our Slice of the Green Pie workshop participants, SNCIRE is drafting and circulating the Skeena-Nass Forest Sector Strategy among stakeholders, asking for feedback and support. The strategy seeks to support the vision: 

A substantial, integrated, diverse and resilient forest sector in the Skeena-Nass

Check out ourSkeena-Nass Forest Sector Strategy project page for more info.

Two new directors

Ttwo new board members have joined SNCIRE:

diane collinsDiane Collins
Diane Collins is the Executive Director PTP ASEP Training Society, an organization that assists in trades training for Aboriginal people whose territories have been impacted by the Kitimat Liquid Natural Gas Terminal and the Pacific Trail Pipelines Project. Her work takes her all over Northern BC. In past years, Diane has served as the Chief Councilor of Kitsumkalum First Nation, on the Coast Mountain School District Board of Trustees, and on Northwest Commuinity College Board of Governors.

Brad Pollard
brad pollard
Brad Pollard is a long term resident of Northwest BC with a strong interest in balancing the region's economic future with the values we derive from our natural resources. Since 1990, Brad has worked as a resource consultant throughout the west coast of Canada, focusing primarily on fish and wildlife issues. He has spent two terms on the board of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and on the Terrace city council. Brad was also the chair of the Kalum Land and Resource Management Plan Implementation Committee between 2006 and 2011. Last year, he took a sabbatical from his job to complete a Masters Degree in Sustainable Forest Management.

First ever annual report


We've published our first ever annual report. 


Check it out! 2013 SNCIRE Annual Report

2013 annual report 200 x 202

Sean Markey presentation online

investing in place ppt cover 300 x 226Couldn't make it to our AGM? 

We've made Sean Markey's presentation about Benefits & Impacts of Resource Development in Northwest BC available online. Markey discusses how Northwest BC communities can balance the negative and positive effects of resource development in our area.

Sean Markey is from SFU's Centre for Sustainable Community Development.

Benefits & Impacts of Resource Development - Free Talk June 24

FINAL 2012 SNCIRE AGM poster 600 x 776

AGM documents:

AGM agenda 
2013 annual report

More on Sean Markey

Markey is widely published in academic journals. He is co-author of several books on community development in rural British Columbia and Northern BC, including Investing in Place, coauthored by UNBC's Dr. Greg Halseth. Check out Markey's Simon Fraser University faculty page for a full list of his reserach interests and publications. And watch the video below for a sneak preview.


 A big thanks to Hawkair for sponsoring Sean's flights!


Updated Report: Skeena-Nass Forest Economy

SNCIRE different wood renewing report 250 x 167The Skeena-Nass Forest Economy - Edition 2013b contains knowledge, opportunities and strategies compiled by SNCIRE to support a renewal of the Skeena-Nass forest economy.

The purpose of the report is to provide Northwest BC stakeholders with relevant information that will encourage and enable strategic action to renew the Skeena-Nass forest economy. The report focuses on the northwest's interior transition hemlock-balsam forests. The area covers most of the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine and the mainland portion of the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District.

The report is living document that will be revised and updated periodically. It is intended to be primarily an online publication that can be accessed on SNCIRE's website on the SNCIRE reports page.

The document and many of the activities presented have been supported by the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS) and a number of activities have benefited from collaboration with BC Timber Sales – Skeena Business Area (BCTS) and FPInnovations.