A good start -- Diebold

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 18/99) - Though no deals were signed, the president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce is calling a trade mission to Northern Alberta and Northern British Columbia a step in the right direction.

"They (the six communities visited by the NWT group) are interested in what is happening in the NWT," Kevin Diebold said Thursday.

According to Diebold, communities in the south could benefit from coming contracts in the diamond business as well as in oil and gas.

"The NWT is opening back up again and they want to be a part of what's happening."

And as for benefits to the NWT, "we're looking for their expertise in oil and gas and forestry," Diebold said.

"They have expertise and people. They work within the same industries that we have in the North."

The NWT is suffering from a shortage of tradespeople and many of the people will come from the south, Diebold said.

Ultimately, NWT companies could link up with companies from the northern parts of these two provinces to form joint ventures, he said.

Diebold, with other representatives of the chamber and Government of the NWT, visited High Level, Peace River and Grande Prairie in Alberta and Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson in British Columbia. The trade mission was funded by the chamber and RWED.

Just days after the trade mission concluded, NWT Premier Jim Antoine concluded a meeting with British Columbia Premier Dan Miller. The leaders met to discuss how their jurisdictions can work together on matters of mutual interest such as economic development and infrastructure needs of their natural gas and oil industries.

Miller is also British Columbia's minister of Energy, Mines and Northern Development.

"I am confident a memorandum of understanding with B.C. would be mutually beneficial," Antoine said in a release.

The MOU would provide a framework for natural gas and forestry initiatives, Antoine said. The premiers' discussions focused on the recent growth of oil and gas activity in the NWT-B.C. border area and on the infrastructure needed for more growth in the oil and gas industry.