I believe the injection of 100 plus jobs from the Woodfibre LNG plant will ultimately be a great thing for our endlessly transitioning local economy. Woodfibre LNG provided me with some of their own projections into wages and tax contributions to the local economy (and no, I’m not on the payroll, so we can skip the drama).
At a high level, the completed project will likely inject over $6 million in staff wages, $2 plus million in local property taxes. Add to that an industry multiplier (the amount of economic activity generated per $1 of sector GDP), and the contract labour that would be employed in addition to the staff positions. We are talking about millions upon millions for the local and regional economies and it’s hardly the economic disaster the opposition would like you to believe it is.
More importantly, this is the kind of facility that fits our demographic perfectly, despite the narrative that some are trying to construct for us. Squamish, while changing, is still a community firmly rooted in industry. We have a labour force dominated by trades, transport, equipment operators, etc. This sector alone makes up 20 per cent of our current labour pool, mix in the 12 per cent who work in business, finance, and administration occupations, and it becomes clear that this project will be well served by the one-third of the Squamish labour pool who are in related occupations.
By comparison, folks employed in art, culture, sports, and recreation only make up about 3 per cent of our labour pool. I would agree that this sector deserves to be developed, but not at the expense of industry.
In the September edition of the Squamish Reporter, guest columnist Auli Parviainen made the case that place-based development is the way forward for Squamish, and that our communities natural appeal and lifestyle would be the selling point to bring so called new-economy jobs to our community. While I don’t discount the value of place as an economic driver, there is more to it than just a pretty face. Expanding on Auli’s example, California’s Coachella Valley, and its tech incubator, decided to pitch themselves to the tech industry. The reason was not because it’s nice to look at, but because they had no other choice.
In 2009, Market Street Services submitted an economic blueprint for the Coachella Valley, and in it they clearly lay out the assertion that they had no other viable industry to pursue for the region that could provide the growth needed for a sustainable local economy. It wasn’t so much that they wanted to shift, it’s that they had little choice.
Squamish, with all of our advantages, is well positioned to grow a wide range of industries and that diversity is key for all of us.
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