Hundreds of trucks gathered to parade through northern B.C. cities in support of liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects that could be worth tens of billions of dollars to the economy if approved.
Cranes, loaders, semis and other heavy machinery rolled through with signs reading, "A Future for Our Kids," "Ready to Work" and "YES to Jobs." The rallies sprung out of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association's (ICBA) "Get to Yes" campaign, designed to spur major project supporters to become more vocal.
At the core of the campaign are polls showing that 84 per cent of British Columbians support responsible resource development.
According to the ICBA, support is also high for specific projects and sectors, including: Site C at 67 per cent; growing the mining industry at 62 per cent; and expanding ports at 68 per cent.
Strong support – 78 per cent – was also expressed for infrastructure and residential construction.
ICBA vice-president Gord Stewart explained the campaign's TV ads prompted phone calls from northern B.C. residents asking to get involved. After a series of meetings in northern cities, a truck rally in Terrace was organized.
"We are worried that the climate dreams, which are noble, have become disconnected from reality," said Stewart, explaining supporters wanted to send a message to Ottawa.
After word of the rally spread, Fort Nelson and Fort St. John organized their own rally for the same day. Terrace saw roughly 50 trucks at its rally.
Fort St. John saw nearly 600 trucks stretching in a line more than five kilometres long. Several helicopters even joined in.
The Fort Nelson rally also saw several hundred vehicles.
"We have really hit a nerve with this campaign," Stewart said. "Normal people who work and aren't activists tend not to get involved in these things."
He said that funding from various groups opposing projects allows protesters to "punch above their weight."
The rallies come as the first major test of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's climate plan approaches. Trudeau is expected to decide this month to reject or approve a $36-billion LNG facility.
Pacific NorthWest LNG plans to build an LNG facility in the District of Port Edward, on land administered by the Prince Rupert Port Authority. The first phase of the project would consist of two liquefaction trains, two LNG storage tanks, marine infrastructure with two berths for LNG carriers, a material offloading facility, as well as administration and auxiliary buildings. The facility would liquefy and export natural gas produced by Progress Energy Canada Ltd. in Northeast B.C. for transport to Lelu Island by the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project.
Stewart said many in the north and Alberta are eager to hear the decision and other decisions which would bring jobs for the coming years. "They are going to decide 'yes' or 'no' and it's going to be politics, environment, economics and all of that mixed in to the decision," Stewart said.