Energy industry's reputation outside Calgary suffering, survey suggests

The oil and gas industry is a cornerstone of Calgary's economy, but a new survey suggests its reputation outside the city needs some work.

Calgary Economic Development says negative perceptions of oil and gas sector need to be countered

Oilsands protests, like this one on Parliament Hill in 2011, have been happening for years. Recently there has been many demonstrations against large-scale pipeline projects like Keystone XL and Northern Gateway. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The oil and gas industry is a cornerstone of the Calgary's economy, but a new survey suggests its reputation outside the city could be a liability.

A national survey conducted in May by Calgary Economic Development (CED) found perceptions of the industry outside the city are being clouded by pipeline project delays and environmental rulings, which is negatively influencing people's decisions about whether to move to or do business in the city.

"The reality is we have a story we need to tell around energy. It's important to this nation and we need to have a dialogue both locally and nationally on that subject,” said CED president Bruce Graham.

The energy sector accounts for 31.6 per cent of Calgary’s GDP, helping the city attract thousands of people from other provinces each year. Calgary led the country in inter-provincial migration between 2004 and 2013.

Coun. Druh Farrell says the Legion redevelopment fits in with the city's concept of Main Streets, which calls for higher, mixed-use densities. (CBC)

Coun. Druh Farrell says she's concerned the energy industry is losing the public relations war over its environmental record.

"More and more, we're hearing criticism internationally and if we don't address that issue in a meaningful way, it will impact our outcome for economics in Calgary and the province."

Graham said CED will work with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and other stakeholders to ensure more information gets out about the industry's work and to build up Calgary’s reputation as a centre for responsible energy development.

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