Fredericton-area group launches its own natural resource task force

WATCH: Some businesses and groups feel natural resources development, including shale gas, has a great potential for New Brunwick’s economy, and are working together to push development. Laura Brown reports.

FREDERICTON – A group of 21 people will work to search and attract natural resource projects to the province, specifically the Fredericton area.

The new natural resources task force includes companies such as TransCanada, Sisson Partnership and Ignite Fredericton.

Greg Davidson, community relations manager with the Sission Brook Mine project, says the force is about having an open dialogue.

“In New Brunswick…and as a New Brunswicker, I think that’s where we’ve fallen down in the past,” he said.

“We categorically decide what we want or don’t want to happen without really exploring it, to its full depth.”

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Natural resource development accounts for $3.98 billion in annual gross domestic product and employs about 30,000 people.

Fredericton’s industries account for about $600 million of that total and employ 5,000 people.

“We have companies, metal working companies, service industries, food and beverage companies, hotels. We are ready and willing to get to work in this province,” said Joel Richardson of the Canadian Manufactures and Exporters Association.

Richardson is concerned that the provincial government has stalled on encouraging some resource development.

“We’re taking it into our own hands and working with the city of Fredericton and working with the community to move this forward and get some natural resource projects going in a province that very desperately needs the work.”

Davidson says he’s received more than 720 resumes for the Sisson Brook Mine project, and most are from New Brunswickers looking for work.

“We’re seeing what happened out west come into our office,” he said. “People who aren’t going back out to go to work because they’ve lost their jobs.”

Mark D’Arcy of the Council of Canadians is skeptical of the initiative.

“It really is a stacked lobby group to promote Energy East, Sisson Brook and to promote shale gas,” he said.

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D’Arcy would like to see the group include representatives from solar, wind and geothermal industries alongside those in forestry, mining and manufacturing.

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