Norman Dale, program manager of the Northern Coastal Information and Research Program (NCIRP) at UNBC, visited the islands last week to introduce himself to community leaders.
The Northern Coastal Information and Research Program is a $-2million Liberal government initiative to address oil and gas development issues on the north and central coasts.
“Our purpose is to get at the facts behind the issue of oil and gas. We want to settle factual questions so discussion can be about what people value, not what they believe,” Mr. Dale told the Queen Charlotte management committee when he met with it Dec. 18.
Shortly after the election, the Liberals sent two panels around the north coast to investigate the development of oil and natural gas reserves in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, Mr. Dale reminded the committee. One group was a scientific panel and the other was the Oil and Gas Task Force, which visited the islands in December last year. After their reports were delivered, the government decided some outstanding questions would need to be answered before any decision on oil and gas development could be made.
The government gave UNBC $2-million to create the NCIRP, which has three goals: to organize a database of information about oil and gas development that is accessible to the public; to organize research; and to create a community liaison network, said Mr. Dale. As program manager, he intends to facilitate all three goals, beginning with the community liaison network.
Outgoing committee member Gary Wunsch asked if lifting the moratorium was a forgone conclusion.
“The lifting of the moratorium is seen as one of – but by no means the only decision that lies ahead.” Mr. Dale told the committee that the government had guaranteed UNBC complete freedom, to ensure the research is unbiased.
Mr. Dale intends to return to the islands again in January. He will meet with community leaders again, and may hold community workshops to engage local experts in research.
Many islanders may remember Mr. Dale, who left the islands 1993 after contributing to the creation of the Gwaii Trust.
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