All-or-nothing attitude risks economic growth in B.C. – by Keith Sashaw (Vancouver Sun – May 5, 2013)

Keith Sashaw is president and CEO of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of BC, representing 90 consulting engineering companies. Consulting engineers contribute $2.9 billion in annual revenue to the B.C. economy.

In this election, it seems that one option being presented to voters is to abandon our traditional resource-based economy by turning down projects such as mines, pipelines, and energy projects. While creating a stronger film and television industry is presented as an alternative, it is highly improbable that this industry can sustain sufficient jobs for a prosperous economy.

It is very unfortunate that complex issues such as the extraction and transportation of resources is being presented as an all-or-nothing proposition. Given the ongoing technological and engineering advances that have been made in the last few decades, and continue to be made every day, it is possible to discuss more robust solutions to the challenge of how we can protect our environment while at the same time utilizing our natural competitive advantage.

We do not have to categorically cut off discussion about alternatives. One immutable fact about British Columbia is that its prosperity is inextricably linked to the abundance and diversity of its resources. Forestry, mining and fishing are the foundations on which our province has been built and continue to rely on. These industries – together with newer resources such as oil and gas, and the infrastructure that relies on resources such as pipelines – drive the creation of well paying jobs and vibrant communities throughout B.C.

This focus on resource-based industries has also led to B.C.’s evolution as a centre for innovation and excellence in sectors related to the extraction, processing and transportation of these resources. As consulting engineers, our industry can especially contribute significantly to the discussions that should be taking place about solutions rather than problems.

The world has come to us for answers. The last 10 years have seen unprecedented growth in the consulting engineering sector in B.C. Global customers account for approximately a quarter of the business of B.C.’s consulting engineering companies.

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