Celebrating the Construction of a Healthier Earth
By Wayne Prins, Executive Director
I was reviewing the list of construction projects that CLAC members are currently building, and will be building over the course of the next several years, and it left me incredibly inspired. As I reflected on the actual work being done, it occurred to me that many of our projects are intended to make the world a cleaner and healthier place to live. In fact, the collective contribution of you and your fellow members in building a healthier earth is simply remarkable, and it should be a source of great pride for all of us.
Let me share just a few examples of what I’m talking about. We are building public transit systems in several major Canadian cities, taking cars off the road and reducing the consumption of fuel.
We are building some of the largest renewable energy projects in North America. From the Site C Clean Energy hydro project in BC to massive solar and wind power installations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. CLAC members have contributed to the construction of over 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy generation capacity in the past decade alone.
We are also building new clean energy generators and converting existing fossil fuel power sources to cleaner sources of energy. This includes the construction of new natural gas power cogeneration units as well as retrofitting coal- and coke-burning furnaces to natural gas units. Transitioning to natural gas electrical generation is the single largest contributor to reducing carbon emissions in the short to mid term.
We are building water treatment plants across the country, from dozens of municipal treatment plants of every size to industrial water treatment plants. In BC’s Elk Valley, where selenium pollution caused by coal mining has had disastrous effects on fish populations, we are building highly sophisticated water treatment plants designed to remove even the most minuscule concentrations of harmful pollutants to return pristine-quality water back into the environment.
In 2019, a naturally occurring rock slide obstructed the Fraser River in BC, preventing millions of salmon from swimming upstream to spawn. The newly formed waterfall threatened the survival of several critical salmon populations. CLAC members worked hard to clear the debris from the river and will now construct a $200 million fish ladder at the location to ensure the future health of these fish populations.
We are building hospitals across the country, from small hospitals to some of the largest in the country. Most notably, CLAC members built the majority of the $1.4 billion Calgary Cancer Centre, which, when complete in 2023, will be one of the most advanced cancer specialty centres in the world.
Lastly, to the degree the world still depends on oil, it is imperative that it be produced according to the highest environmental and social standards. I’ve always found it ironic that Western consumers seem genuinely concerned about drinking fair-trade coffee, eating ocean-wise seafood, and writing on forest-friendly paper but don’t seem to mind that much of their gasoline comes from countries ruled by despotic leaders guilty of horrific human rights and environmental violations. CLAC members build and maintain an oil industry that consistently meets and exceeds the highest standards of performance on all important measures of social and environmental standards.
In these days of longing for good, uplifting news stories, let this perspective give you something to be proud of and hope for a cleaner, healthier future. For me, I will carry on with immense pride knowing that an army of CLAC construction workers are working hard to build a healthier earth. Well done!