The provincial government continues to be adamant on ensuring the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is approved.
“We’re not going to stop fighting until that pipeline gets built. Not only will the pipeline allow us to diversify our markets, but (will) allow us to get world class prices for our world class oil. I find it quite frustrating that because we are reliant on one buyer, they set the price and because of that, we lose about $30 a barrel from the differential,” said Deron Bilous, minister of economic development and trade.
Bilous discussed the pipeline, economy and caribou draft plan among other issues at the Growing the North Conference on Wednesday, Feb. 21 in the ENTREC Centre at Evergreen Park. He said the expansion is critical to the Canadian economy.
“We’re talking about continuing to put pressure on the federal government. This is their jurisdiction,” said Bilous. “No provincial government has the authority to dictate what goes in the pipeline. It went through a series of consultations, it met all the environmental approvals and then the federal government approved it.
“What British Columbia is doing is unconstitutional, it is illegal and our government will continue to fight them until this pipeline goes through.”
Bilous said measures like these are sending the wrong message to international investors as the provincial government tries to attract and attain companies.
The provincial government ended talks with B.C. on electricity and banned importing wine.
“The Premier also created a task force that minister (Marg) McCuaig-Boyd, (Environment Minister Shannon) Phillips and I sit on with a number of industry leaders, including the former deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan and others that are looking at different options.”
Economy shaping up well
Bilous said more people are working in Alberta as it had the fastest growing economy in the country last year.
He announced there have been about 75,000 new full time jobs in the province, primarily in the private sector.
“There are more than 2.3 million jobs in Alberta today. That’s the most in our province’s history,” said Bilous.
“Average yearly earnings are increasing too. They are by far the highest in Canada.”
Locally, he said Windsor Ford was building a new dealership in Grande Prairie on 100 Street noting that it will be the largest dealership in Canada.
Seven Generations Energy Ltd., a liquids-rich natural gas developer in Grande Prairie, received conditional approval of a $5 million tax credit to build a natural gas processing facility in the Montney Kakwa River area.
“For Seven Gen, this is great news for them expanding further and making new capital investments. Our government introduced the Capital Investment Tax Credit as a way to support business and provide some incentive,” he said. “Essentially what we’re doing is we’re levelling the playing field. These types of parameters exist in other jurisdictions and we want to encourage companies to invest today.”
The tax credit helps Alberta companies take on new construction costs by returning up to 10% of the cost of new machinery, equipment or buildings.
Business can claim the credit once the assets they purchased are used.
Concerns rose over draft caribou plan
As the federal government imposes each province to roll out a plan to protect caribou, municipalities have been expressing concerns.
Bilous said the province needs to ensure they find the right balance in protecting jobs and caribou.
“Part of it is through conversations we’re having with municipal leaders and industry on what does that balance look like. People have to remember it is the federal government that has laid out the framework or sandbox and we’re trying to do what we can in that sand box to ensure we’re not losing a significant number of jobs.”
The provincial plan will have a minimal impact on jobs, industries, specifically oil, gas and forestry, all will protecting caribou, Bilous said.
“We’ve tried to be as responsive as possible. The draft plans are posted for everyone to see and we’re encouraging Albertans to weigh in on that.”