Gas pipeline would be economic windfall for Yukon, study says

Posted: Friday, May 03, 2002

WHITEHORSE, Yukon (AP) -- An Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline would greatly boost the Yukon both before and after construction, according to an economic analysis commissioned by the Yukon government.

As many as 8,000 jobs would be created at the peak of construction and as many as 2,000 in the long-term, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Scott Kent said Thursday when the $80,000 study was announced.

''Results of this study demonstrate that the Alaska Highway pipeline will have significant local, regional and national benefits,'' the minister said.

The report is more than a one-time analysis of economic impacts related to the pipeline, said Michael McCracken, chief executive officer of Informetrica, the Ottawa-based company that produced the document. He said the report was developed to be used as a tool box by communities and organizations who want to plug in their own numbers to assess the impact on a more local scale.

McCracken used the analogy of throwing a rock in a pond to describe impacts of a gas line across the country.

On a nationwide scale, the project would be barely be a ripple but the Yukon will be right under the rock and there would be a dramatic surge of activity. For that reason, McCracken said, Informetrica focused on the resources required to absorb the impact of a construction boom that would see a huge influx of transient workers.

McCracken said the analysis found that 20 percent of the construction jobs could be filled by Yukoners, but all of the spin-off jobs in the service and supply sectors could be filled by Yukoners.

''What that means is about half of the employment effort will end up with Yukon residents,'' he said. ''But the bottom line after all this is done is to look at how this can be handled. It is going to require good government, it is going to require good training to maximize benefits.''

McCracken predicted an annual increase in expenditures by the pipeline companies, including annual operation and maintenance costs like property taxes, would generate more than 1,000 full-time jobs in the Yukon economy. That doesn't include jobs created by access to a pipeline.

Kent said if the project proceeds, it could create between 32,000 and 50,000 person years of employment during the 24-year period examined in the study. Over the same period, it would add an estimated influx of nearly $17 billion to Canada's gross domestic product, including almost $12 billion it is expected to generate for the Yukon and British Columbia gross domestic products over 24 years.

McCracken added, however, that Yukoners should realize that benefits from any pipeline construction ''are not going to fall from heaven and hit them on the head, that they do have some control over how things are going to affect them.''

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