LNG Canada's decision to indefinitely delay investment in a proposed liquefied natural gas project in northern B.C. has local leaders worried about the region's economic future.
The multinational consortium cited low global energy prices as the reason for the latest delay in the project slated for construction in Kitimat.
Ellis Ross, chief councillor of the Haisla First Nation, said the decision was an extreme disappointment.
"This was our first chance as Haisla to be a part of the economy, to be part of the wealth distribution in our area," Ross told On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.
Ross said the Haisla nation has been working to get its people jobs in the construction of the facility and related infrastructure, as well as full-time jobs once the plant opens.
"To witness the wealth generation in our territory for the last six years but to not be a part of it, and now to continue to not be a part of it, is really distressing to us, because we had built up our entire future around this."
Kitimat mayor remains hopeful
Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth said that while he was disappointed in the decision, he was not completely surprised given the price of oil is less than half of what it was when the project was first proposed in 2011.
He said the "domino effect" as various LNG facilities were repeatedly delayed gave local businesses a sense the indefinite Kitimat delay was coming, and they were careful not to overextend themselves.
Despite the decision, Germuth believes the price of oil will eventually bounce back and make the project a reality.
"There's no doubt that there's going to be a little bit of hurt for a while, but we still fully believe that Kitimat is by far the absolute best location anywhere on the West Coast [for] a major LNG export facility," Germuth said. "We are absolutely confident that it will come."
But Ross worries the project could lose momentum in the meantime.
"It'll happen sooner or later, demand will still be there," he said.
"But is everything that's been done to date, in terms of the permits, the authorizations and the social license — is that going to last for the next two years? How do you sustain that?"
With files from CBC Radio One's On the Coast.