Dozens of Central Albertans took part in a rally outside the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer Saturday in support of building the Kinder Morgan pipeline. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff) Dozens of Central Albertans took part in a rally in Red Deer in support of the Kinder Morgan pipeline earlier this month. (Black Press File Photo)

Sicamous council protests pipeline dispute

The District of Sicamous is fed up with the brewing trade war between B.C. and Alberta.

A letter to Premier John Horgan, signed by Mayor Terry Rysz and endorsed by the Sicamous council at their May 9 meeting, airs the district’s grievances with the way the B.C. Government’s resistance to the expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline is negatively affecting B.C.’s economy.

“We understand and respect your position on the pipeline expansion, however, we must remember the project has been approved by the federal government. The method the current government is using right now, by encouraging and implementing unnecessary delay tactics and by disrupting the legal construction of the pipeline, is not the way British Columbians would like this to be resolved. We do not believe a trade war with any other province, especially Alberta, is the solution,” the letter reads.

At the council meeting, Rysz expressed concern about the bookings being made with local tourism businesses this year and suggested the dispute between B.C. and Alberta is to blame.

“There’s been a bit of a boycott that’s been going on between Albertans and it’s affecting tourism here in B.C.,” he said.

The letter suggests B.C.’s tourism industry will be hit hard if the dispute between the provinces continues and warns of lasting impacts as out-of-province visitors change their holiday plans. Albertan visitors are a major part of the tourism sector province-wide. According to statistics tracked by Destination British Columbia, in 2016 Albertans accounted for 14 per cent of all overnight visits to B.C. The Thompson-Okanagan region was the destination for 27 per cent of Albertan visitors.

“Due to our location we heavily rely on the Alberta tourism dollar and we cannot afford to upset our neighbour to the east,” the letter reads.

Some tourism businesses say they are feeling the pinch as a result of the dispute between the provinces.

“We have noticed an impact on our sales due to the dispute between the B.C. and Alberta governments. We do not wish to become embroiled in a political dispute, where both sides have good points to be made. What we would say is that we are all Canadians and our politicians are obligated to work this out, without inflaming the situation. They should diligently work on this issue and find a resolution. Creating and fueling division and a trade war between our provinces is totally counter productive,” said Waterway Houseboats Chief Operating Officer Neil Millar in an email to the News.

“British Columbia has always been a very environmentally responsible province, and we will continue to be strong stewards guarding the future of our children, however, this massive battle is not the solution nor the will of most British Columbians. If you don’t fix this, Mr. Premier, the consequences of a failed 7.4-billion-dollar mega project will be felt for generations. Please reconsider the government’s stand, and put the success and prosperity of British Columbians in your sights first,” the letter concludes.

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