We’ve all heard the energy hand-wringing and dire predictions about the future of the Maritimes. I don’t believe them. What I do believe in is changing the conversation.
The East Coast is a powerhouse of energy activity. The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council estimates $13.3 billion in major project spending in 2015, with the much of this coming from the energy sector.
We’re well positioned to seize many and diverse energy opportunities. A strong energy future means a strong economic future.
So how do we involve the greater community in understanding, sharing and supporting this positivity?
1 – Understanding who cares about what you’re doing
Whether you’re in the early stages of development or working through the regulatory process, you must understand who has an interest in your project and how it affects them. This was evident in our region’s tidal industry development.
The Bay of Fundy boasts the highest tides in the world. To harness this energy, world class companies have come together with their partners, governments and communities to test their technologies in one of the toughest environments in the world.
Understanding and respecting the concerns of citizens, communities and special interest groups has been a founding principle of the industry development and regulatory processes.
2 – Engaging in real conversation
Whether your energy project is big or small, engagement with stakeholders is paramount to success. We’ve seen many recent examples of how ongoing dialogue can build positive momentum and help carry energy projects forward.
Encouraging two-way conversations with communities, special interest groups, and First Nations helps establish important relationships and allows people to have their say in project development.
This understanding empowers more people to be able to explain your project benefits to others and makes them feel like they are a part of the process.
3 – Opting for open and transparent communications
Despite growing resistance to some energy projects, others have proceeded almost seamlessly. What do they have in common?
Open and transparent communications with citizens, interest groups, government and First Nations were critical as they worked their way through the regulatory and development process.
Sharing information in an open and transparent way helps build trust. Trust that goes a long way in building project support.
4 – Investing in relationships
Thoughtful, measured and continued engagement is critical to success. Make the time and resources available to have meaningful dialogue with those who matter most to your project.
These efforts will pay for themselves by ensuring the views of citizens, communities and interest groups are reflected in your project planning.
Positive momentum, that’s what we’re facing right now. I’m excited about the contribution the East Coast is making and will make on the energy front. Let’s start making the conversation as positive as the reality.