Efforts to tap into this tremendous resource have, so far, been plagued by regulatory delays and cost uncertainties. However, with recent approval from B.C.’s legislature, new life has been breathed into the endeavor. We are significantly closer to seeing the construction of major liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects become a reality within the next five years. The significance? British Columbia could very well be on the cusp of an economic boom.

“This investment is not just a job for today but a career for the future. We have an opportunity to rejuvenate the north. These job opportunities will revitalize our northern communities and help keep families together.”

Economic growth

The size of this boom can only be estimated at the moment, however data indicates that a scenario with five LNG facilities constructed in B.C. between 2015 and 2024 could create a total industry investment of $175 billion for the province.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for British Columbia,” says Joe Shayler, Business Manager for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 170, B.C. “We can offer apprenticeships and the applicable in-school technical training to our youth in British Columbia to work on these construction projects, the end result being a resource of qualified journeypersons to replace our aging workforce as they retire. It is our vision that these projects will benefit First Nations, local communities in northern B.C., B.C. residents, the B.C. economy and Canada as a whole.”

Long-term employment

According to the provincial government, development of the LNG industry could generate as many as 100,000 jobs in B.C.—both during the construction and operation phase of an estimated five LNG facilities. Once completed, there will be full-time operational staff required to maintain and operate these LNG facilities, fueling employment growth in the public and private sectors within the northern communities of B.C. and throughout the province.

“For those people who live in the communities where these LNG projects have been built, and who have earned trade qualifications in their chosen trade during the construction of these LNG facilities, there will be opportunities to apply for full-time jobs in the facilities and be employed for years to come,” states Shayler. “This investment is not just a job for today but a career for the future. We have an opportunity to rejuvenate the north. These job opportunities will revitalize our northern communities and help keep families together.”

“Local 170 is 100 percent committed to ensuring any job opportunity in B.C. including: LNG projects, industrial, commercial/institutional and pipeline projects, that apprenticeship and job opportunities go first to British Columbians (inclusive of First Nations), followed by Canadians from other provinces in Canada, then qualified US tradespersons (classified as temporary foreign workers), followed by qualified offshore international workers (classified as offshore international temporary foreign workers),” says Shayler.

Apprenticeship and skills training

Given the projected requirements to build and maintain these projects, attracting Red Seal trade qualified workers and a skilled labour pool, remains an essential component to bringing LNG to market in B.C. In addition, apprenticeship and skills training will be required by British Columbians to ensure access to this work.

“In trades that require the completion of an apprenticeship, the on-the-job training needs to be done under the tutelage of a journeyperson for that trade. The in-school technical training for each year of the apprenticeship must be completed in order to graduate to journeyperson status.

Shayler adds, “when you’re building LNGs, it’s important that they’re built by Red Seal journeypersons and indentured apprentices registered with the B.C. Industry Training Authority. This ensures that these facilities are built according to the trades applicable codes which in turn ensures the safety of the project and the surrounding communities.”