Gastech News has recently interviewed Gordon MacDonald, the Director of Economic Development at the Municipality of the District of Guysborough to discuss the Municipality’s role working with LNG project development in Eastern Canada.
Gastech News: Can you give us an insight into what your role is in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough?
Gordon MacDonald: My role is to prepare the local community for large scale economic development opportunities such as LNG. We normally use the tools that municipalities have at their disposal, around land-use planning in particular and land ownership position, in order to position projects to be received favourably in the community.
Gastech News: With regards to the local municipality and how it would engage with a project developer, could you elaborate a bit more on that relationship and how perhaps there’s an interconnectivity between yourselves, a project developer and the local community?
Gordon MacDonald: In terms of the land-use planning process, it’s a tool that not a lot of municipalities use to its potential. We identify areas that we think have economic development opportunities within the municipalities. We have consultations with the local residents in the community around future intended use for those properties. It’s been our experience that it’s a much easier discussion to have in advance of project development and much more likely to be received favourably by the community. When it’s a proponent that’s coming into the community it’s often much more difficult to engage with the community. So for us, getting out there is part of our role. The Municipality owns industrial lands in two very strategic areas, Melford at the Strait of Canso, and at Goldboro, through that ownership position, as well as through the land-use planning process, we’re able to offer a very attractive and soft landing spot for potential investors.
Gastech News: Are there any challenges that are very specific to the east coast of Canada which you’ve been able to overcome through this engagement? Perhaps project proponents who have that expertise and can allay any concerns for the local community?
Gordon MacDonald: The biggest challenge is just one of familiarity. It’s a new industry to Canada and to Eastern Canada in particular, but we’ve had a 20-year history of industrial development related to the Sable Offshore Energy Project (SOEP). There’s a local gas plant in the area and there are pipelines that cut through the Municipality, so there’s a level of understanding and comfort there with local residents and communities and they’ve seen the benefit of it. There’s a reason why we have the lowest residential tax rate in Nova Scotia, and there’s a reason why despite a relatively low population base, we have a high level of community services, whether it's recreational, cultural or community infrastructure. That’s one of the byproducts of the development that occurred in the area over the years and it builds a familiarity with people of the benefits of these developments above and beyond simply employment.
This is part one of a two-part interview, the second half will be published shortly.
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Gordon MacDonald, the Director of Economic Development at the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, attended the 2016 Canada LNG Conference & Exhibition in Vancouver. Find out more about next year's event which will take place from 16-18 May 2017. The Canada LNG Conference & Exhibition is where the global LNG community meets to discuss and develop the future of Canada’s LNG industry.
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