Why AEG is heading to British Columbia

The following is AEG’s monthly column by AEG President Josh Bilyk appearing in the October edition of Business in Edmonton Magazine. If you have tips or suggestions for future columns, please feel free to write or call. 

Canada Connects: Alberta Enterprise Group heading west                         

We call them the Canada Connects series of events. Since 2007, Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG) has executed a series of business missions aimed at promoting trade ties with jurisdictions around the world, learning about the challenges and opportunities in other locales, and exposing AEG members to investment and partnership opportunities.

We go to explore new markets, carry the flag for Alberta and stimulate conversations around the important issues facing business today.

AEG delegations have travelled to Washington, D.C., Geneva, Quebec, Ottawa and Atlantic Canada. We have also hosted delegations of business leaders and policy makers from those locations, other parts of Canada and around the world in Alberta to tell the Alberta story and introduce business leaders to the abundant opportunities in our home province. These targeted, high-impact initiatives have resulted in millions of investment dollars flowing to and from Alberta while enhancing cultural awareness and building relationships among participants.

For our next destination, AEG is looking west to British Columbia where challenges and opportunity intersect. It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges facing Alberta’s oil and gas industry is securing the “social permission” to build the pipeline infrastructure needed to get our energy products to market. Two key projects – Kinder Morgan’s TMX and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway – are proposed to bring energy to Asia via British Columbia. Both projects enjoy support in that province, but also stiff resistance. There’s the challenge.

The opportunity? There are 19 liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects currently proposed in BC representing $175 billion in total investment, with approximately $18 billion of that investment set to happen around each of the communities of Prince Rupert and Kitimat, British Columbia. These investments could create 23,000 permanent jobs and thousands more resulting from increased economic activity across the province.

But while LNG is the golden child in the eyes of the BC government, some of the same folks who oppose Northern Gateway and TMX oppose LNG projects and the pipelines that are supposed to feed them. We will go to BC and learn about their challenges and how they are being met, and remind the local business community that “resource development” – and that term includes LNG, mining, forestry, hydroelectric dams and oil sands – is key to our national economic future.

While we’re talking resource development we’re going to learn about First Nations issues by meeting with key aboriginal leaders. We’ll learn more about BC Hydro’s historic Site C Clean Energy Project and how Alberta companies (and others from across Canada), with their wealth of major project experience, can contribute to the success of that project.

Delegates will hear about the latest developments in environmental technology, receive briefings on what makes the BC economy tick and look even further west to Asia – and how trends in the world’s fastest-growing economy impacts us here in Canada.

We’ll top it all off with a tour of Coal Harbour and a look at Port Metro Vancouver (which in 2014 traded $187 billion in goods with more than 160 countries) and a look at Kinder Morgan’s facilities. AEG’s Canada Connects: BC will close under the dome at BC Place where delegates will take in the last game of the regular season between the Calgary Stampeders and BC Lions. Sports are, of course, one of the few universal languages.

AEG business missions always serve two purposes. We want to introduce our members to investment and partnership opportunities to expand their businesses. But more importantly, our missions give business leaders a forum to carry the flag for Alberta, promote free trade and develop a network of support for responsible resource development across Canada.

For more information on Canada Connects: BC and learn about how you can participate, please click here. 

Alberta Enterprise Group is a member-based, non-profit business advocacy organization. AEG members employ more than 150,000 Canadians in all sectors of the economy. Visit www.albertaenterprise.ca to inquire about membership in the AEG movement.