As mayors and councillors from cities all over B.C. meet at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Whistler next week, it is a good time to remind ourselves that our rural, resource-based towns and communities have little in the way of economic diversity and rely largely on our natural resources such as mining.
It is time for us to stop thinking only about ourselves in the province’s urban centers and to start thinking about what the lives of rural B.C. families would be like if we did not support mining and mineral exploration.
For example, mining now contributes over $9 billion to B.C.’s economy, and exploring for mineral deposits is a major source of safe, sustainable economic activity for rural communities and the families who live in them.
The mining industry in B.C. is responsible for 45,700 permanent jobs and generated more than $930 million in government tax revenue last year, including $74 million generated directly for local municipalities. Over the next 10 years, it is estimated that new growth in mining and exploration will require 20,000 new workers.
I am sure that, at some point, the deliberations of those assembled at the UBCM will turn to the recent Mount Polley incident. I urge the delegates to resist the urge to jump on the Mount Polley bandwagon. It would be a shame if they were to use the incident as a justification to do harm to the industry, potentially even trying to shut it down.
Mining provides some of the highest paying jobs in B..C, and our province is geologically wealthy.
I urge the mayors and councillors attending UBCM to think of those families who rely on the jobs created by mining.
The jobs the industry creates will keep our children and grandchildren closer to home, support local small businesses and strengthening our communities for generations to come.