Thursday, November 12, 2009

Will turning on the switch bring prosperity for Stewart and beyond?

The talk is of parallels to the dirty thirties, with jobs and industries disappearing and many long time residents moving on. For Northwest BC's most northerly beach head, the immediate prospects appear bleak, stores are closing, the population declining, the mines are winding down and with that reality in view, the future of the port of Stewart is up in the air.

So it's not surprising that they await the arrival of the electrification of the Highway 37 corridor with much anticipation, hopeful that with the flick of a power switch, prosperity will return and some of that promise of years gone by will be realized again.

Stewart in particular has the highest of hopes, with electrification of the corridor, it is anticipated mining activity will expand rapidly in the area, with that shipments through the Port of Stewart and business activity in the town itself would increase, turning around a situation that of late has residents just hanging on.

The prospect of a massive industrialization of the area does raise flags for a number of area residents and how it may change their way of life. The Thaltan nation has very real fears for their lands, the recent push back against Shell Canada's coal bed methane projects and other mining projects in those lands indicative of that concern.

How those issues are addressed by industry and government will go a long way to determining the fate of electrification of the region and how it will change the way of life in some of the most pristine wilderness in the nation.

BC Business Magazine has an interesting review of the electrification project, what it might mean for the communities of the Northwest and how it very well may be the last hope for the future of Stewart.

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