Economic Gardener September 2018 by Blair Van Veld

September Economic Gardener 

Mega Projects-A Quiet Optimism 

110 km away is a tiny community with no major highways through it, no hospitals, no Sobeys store and limited accommodations. This community has a population of around 500 people and is about to get the largest shot in the arm in economic development a community can hope for. Pieridae Energy, an Alberta company, is a stone’s throw away from moving ahead with one of NS’s largest development projects ever proposed. Pieridae is very close to a final investment decision on a $10 Billion natural gas export facility. To put it into perspective as to the size of this investment, the national shipbuilding contract awarded to Irving Shipbuilding is pegged at $24 Billion. This investment, in the tiny community of Goldboro, will have a major economic impact on all of Northern Nova Scotia, and no one seems to be talking about it!  The communities of Pictou and Antigonish Counties, along with the Strait area stand to benefit the most from this development. Our communities are all within 120km’s of this development. Halifax is over 260km’s to get the Goldboro site (almost a 3 hour drive). 

Goldboro, along with most of Guysborough County, has a limited supply of workers, accommodations and infrastructure, therefore most of the economic activity will spill over to communities such as Antigonish, Pictou County and Port Hawkesbury.  Indications are that Pieridae Energy has their supply secured, financing and capital secured, and customers secured, and the final investment decision will be coming this fall.

Other mega projects are also on the books for North Eastern Nova Scotia including additional gold mines, a marine terminal ($350 million), Boat Harbour cleanup ($200 million), potentially a second LNG terminal ($5 Billion) in Port Hawkesbury, and finally a space port in Canso ($110 million). Maybe we Northerner’s are quietly optimistic because we’ve been promised so much in the past. All of these projects, other than the Boat Harbour cleanup, appear to be free of government subsidies, which gives me great hope that the projects can move ahead with a solid business plan that isn’t propped up by government funds. 

Ask yourself, is your business prepared for any of these projects? Are you prepared for serving these projects if you’re in construction, earth work, engineering, machining, catering and accommodations? Is your business ready for the pull on an already stressed available workforce, as thousands of workers will be needed to complete these projects?  We potentially have $15.7 billion worth of investments coming down the pipe, are you ready for the impacts that come with that?

Blair van Veld

President

Pictou County Chamber of Commerce