Liquefied natural gas was front and centre in pre-election Budget 2013, but the industry that was once sold as the future of B.C.’s economy got virtually no attention in this year’s financial plan.
Back in 2013, Premier Christy Clark said the LNG industry could make B.C. debt-free by 2028 and create 100,000 jobs along the way.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the LNG industry has yet to materialize in B.C., earning what amounts to little more than a sidebar in this year’s budget.
Speaking to reporters Clark says the BC Liberals have managed well anyway.
“We found a billion dollars that we’re returning to people in tax relief, without LNG even happening yet.”
The province has also now added $500-million to its “prosperity fund,” a vehicle Clark touted heavily on the 2013 campaign trail as a place to park up to $100-billion of expected LNG royalties.
READ MORE: Woodfibre LNG plant to be built in Squamish
Clark promised the money would wipe out B.C.’s debt, reduce taxes on families, and make investments in health care, education, and infrastructure.
But none of the half-billion dollars now in the fund has come from LNG, and Budget 2017 forecasts the provincial debt will climb by nearly $10-billion in the next three years, driven by a massive capital spending program.
Looking to LNG’s future, Clark points the finger at markets overseas and says she’s confident the market will pick up.
“Imagine when we do get LNG going, how much that’s going top add to our economic growth. International markets for Natural Gas have been very, very soft, so it’s taking a lot longer than what we predicted.”
Just one project, Woodfibre LNG near Squamish, has been given the full investment go-ahead, and the local First Nation says its own demands haven’t been met yet.
An investment decision on the province’s biggest proposed facility, the $36-billion Pacific Northwest LNG in Prince Rupert, is possible this summer.
With files from Emily Lazatin