CITY COUNCILLOR Bruce Bidgood spoke about the future of northwestern BC at a regional development conference being held in the mid-northern city of Ostersund, Sweden today.
He underlined the Northwest Transmission Line and the mines it is intended to stimulate, modernization of Rio Tinto Alcan’s Kitimat aluminum smelter, the Kitimat liquefied natural gas plant and plans by Avanti to re-open a molybdenum deposit at Kitsault as examples of underway or pending industrial projects.
The conference is focussing on growing green technology and policies being applied to business and industry and is sponsored by local and regional governments in mid-northern Sweden and by the European Union.
“The Northwest Transmission Line will not only allow mines to use it but run-of-the-river projects will feed into it as well,” said Bidgood in citing a green application to northwestern development.
One of those run-of- the-river projects is Forrest Kerr, being developed by AltaGas which will produce electricity from the Iskut River.
Bidgood also spoke of growing interest from outside companies in converting the northwest’s fibre supply into pellets and various kinds of fossil fuel replacements.
“We have trees and lots of biomass,” said Bidgood.
Various other speakers at the conference have described innovations and efforts at converting European biomass into fuels.
As a municipal councillor, Bidgood summarized Terrace’s future as a series of questions, keying on how to develop an economy that is not subject to what has been a traditional boom and bust cycle.
“How do you move from a resource extraction,” he said.
He also said municipal councils face challenges in whether or not they should decline economic projects which may not be fully accepted by its citizens.
Bidgood’s presentation included a promotional video prepared for the Northwest Regional Airport promoting Terrace and an informational video on the University of Northern British Columbia.
Bidgood, a social work professor in Terrace, is one of a small group of mostly academics from the University of Northern British Columbia invited to the development conference.
Others include senior University of BC sociologist Ralph Matthews and Dirk Brinkman from Brinkman Forest Restoration.
The company, for instance, does forestry planning for Coast Tsimshian Resources.
Following this larger conference on green developments, the Canadians will join with Swedish counterparts at a smaller conference examining common general economic and political issues existing in northern British Columbia and in mid northern Sweden.
Speakers there will include Janine North from the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
Ostersund, a city of approximately 70,000, has a BC connection – it is the hometown of Alexander Edler, one of the rising young defencemen with the Vancouver Canucks.