If you’re sick of election advertisements and speeches, throw your hands up!
No matter. It’s all resolved now, at least for a while. Surviving climate change will take precedence over squeezing extra dollars out of a barrel of oil or squeezing extra oil out of the ground. In a world of Donald Trumps and Greta Thunbergs, Canadians overwhelmingly chose the latter.
This has huge implications for business here in the Beaufort Delta.
With the balance of power held by either the Bloc Quebecois or the NDP, it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing a lot of appetite for reversing the moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort Sea. Anyone counting on that reversal certainly has grounds to be disappointed, but they also have a relatively clear path of where things are going.
So with plans to resume living high off the oil and gas hog scuttled, what’s left to keep small business going here? Lots, potentially.
Tourism continues to be a growing factor in the area’s economy as more people trek north to see the Arctic Ocean and the ecosystems it cradles and the North is starting to return the favour.
A group of students from Tuktoyaktuk are due to present their documentary on their home and the challenges climate change is forcing on them to the United Nations. This will put the Beaufort on the map on an international scale. The publicity has the capacity to snowball into a larger economic boon as people come north to visit, study and learn about the issues at stake on top of the world.
Even without oil and gas exploration, warming temperatures in the Arctic Ocean will open more sea routes throughout the Northwest Passage, bringing more traffic to the Beaufort Sea. Canada is going to need a strong presence up here in the future to monitor the activity of other countries, like Russia, China and the United States, which are eager to access resources on the Arctic shelf.
The previous Liberal government already announced plans to expand airports in the North to improve access, particularly for the military, and access is what I see as the key to the future of the Beaufort.
More ways to get here will make it easier to get goods up here, which will bring the cost of living and doing business down. That is reality regardless of who is calling the shots in Ottawa.
And that’s the world the region and the territory now live in. The obvious next step is more infrastructure projects for the Beaufort. More roads, more military presence and maybe even a port once the government figures out how to aid Tuktoyaktuk with its eroding coastline.
It is now clear that oil and gas companies are not going to develop the North for us. Like it or not, at least we know what direction the ship is pointed in.