While folks continue to beat each other up over the proposed LNG facility for our community, I thought I would highlight some of the softer benefits that we could realize from the Woodfibre LNG development. We’ve heard the job numbers, speculated wildly on the municipal tax share, but haven’t dived below to look at what those numbers mean for Squamish.
Let’s start with the jobs. For conversations sake, let’s assume the average salary is $75,000 for a LNG staffer. Not far-fetched, given the skilled nature of the work. If the estimate plays out, that’s 7.5 million dollars in new payroll added to the community every year. But where will the money go? Well, nearly half will be eaten up by income taxes levied by senior levels of government. The rest?
It’s safe to assume these people eat, so we would see more mouths in restaurants, pubs and grocers. The folks who come from elsewhere for a job will need a place to live. At that salary they could afford a home here, so some of that new money will find it’s way into the hands of trades, real estate and mortgage brokerages, and a litany of other home services. Many will drive as well, and so on. If our local marketplace is up to the task, they will likely absorb much of the new money provided by these new jobs.
There are also businesses that could see a benefit from a new facility here. The obvious sector would be marine services; tugs, water taxi, waterborne delivery, and chandlery. Beyond the obvious, there will be additional work from the increased environmental monitoring around the plant through the commissioning and operating phases. Maintenance cycles will require engineers, millwrights, welders, pipefitters and other skilled trades.
This is all high value work, and all work that can be accomplished with the current talent pool. And most importantly, this is all new work in our community.
There is also a potential benefit to the increased marine traffic here. If we continue to be a safe port of call for shipping, Squamish Terminals, our only major employer here (not counting the District itself), will be provided an opportunity to increase its exposure to the shipping world. In a business where reputation matters, this facility will only mean good things for other commodities that are sent to the wider world from our little piece of paradise.
Getting behind this opportunity provides us with increased economic diversity, more high paying jobs, more people who can call Squamish home and make a living here.
This needs to be the goal, because we should be more than just a playground.
Sound off on Twitter: @natedolha