Financial Viability Doesn’t Matter

Financial Viability Doesn’t Matter

The movement of absolute objectionist’s is organized and strategic in their apparent goals to reject any and all proposed natural resource projects. The latest trend appears to be in targeting the financial viability of any proposed project. Last I checked, we are a society of capitalism. Industry, trade and financial decisions are controlled by private citizens and corporations and not the government. Yet it seems to be increasingly popular to declare that a project is not financially viable, and as such, the project should not be approved through the government’s regulatory process. This is another tactic used by NIMBY’s and BANANA’s (see “I Hate Negativity“) to stop a project not based on the merits outlined in the EAO process, but by fear-mongering and claiming an ability to predict market trends better than by those actually putting forward the funds to build the project. While the BC EAO is mandated to review the economic effects, they are not mandated to assess the project’s specific financial viability or market outlooks.

If I had to bet on the financial viability of a project between the business putting forward the cash or a group in opposition, I for one would bet on the people putting forward the cash 99 times out of 100. I understand there are concerns about the impacts that a project may leave if it goes belly up mid-life, but this should be addressed through government regulations, not a project assessment. The current pandemic clearly shows that there is absolutely no one that can predict how future markets, commodities or companies will perform. There are far too many variables and unknowns in the equation. To have our government start making decisions is such a way is a dangerous game and a slippery slope that is being pushed by these special interest groups. Just think of some of the biggest corporations today and ask yourself if you think they would have existed if the government decided on their chances of financial success in their start-up years.

It is often ironic that the claims these projects are not financially viable are self-fulfilling. The opponents complete “studies” showing economics not working. With lawyers on the payroll, they try tying up projects in litigation with little more objective than to stall a project to the point of economic ruins. My absolute favourite is, of course, lobbying the government to change regulations that make a project that was once viable, now economically unfeasible, and then claiming this is proof that their predictions were right all along. You can’t change the rules mid-game then say, “I told you so.” What each and every one of these strategies doesn’t include are actual solutions. Real people, wanting to create real jobs, are putting their own real money on the line, while these groups with no vested interest are claiming to know the business better.  They provide no alternative path to jobs and no alternative source of investment for the province.

For this reason, it is concerning every time I see another ad, article or campaign run by NIMBY’s and BANANA’s attempting to ruin BC’s Natural Resource industry based on their claimed ability to understand a project’s financial viability. When it comes to the regulatory process, let’s leave the financial viability of a project in the hands of the people putting forward the money. Let’s instead focus on continual environmental and social improvement, solutions, and inevitable on to ensure that Natural Resource projects continue to happen in this province. Let’s welcome anyone willing to invest. Leave the financial viability out of assessments and the final investment decision in the hands of the investors. It’s important to the future of BC that we do and why you should care.

Dan Rae