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A photo of the Enbridge pipeline route as displayed at the hearings.
REPORTING · 10th September 2010
Walter McFarlane
JRP Revisited

The Joint Review Panel has come and gone from Kitimat. Of the dozens of presenters which came, there are several which require closer examination. On Tuesday, August 31st, two presenters stepped up to speak about the project. One of those speakers was Ron Burnett and he spoke about the potential for project beyond the Enbridge and Kitimat LNG pipelines.

“Since 1987 the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce has been promoting a public highway to connect the town of Houston and Kitimat B.C. to promote development by offering an alternative and shorter route for shipping goods from the interior in Alberta to a port with an abundance of opportunity for expansion. The proposed highway would open up potential for development throughout the whole region. Various studies have been conducted but the construction cost was prohibitive for the limited amount of traffic at those times. Recently a range of pipeline companies have studied the various pipeline routes to the coast in anticipation of developing world markets. In 2005, Enbridge chose Kitimat as its western terminal for the proposed Northern Gateway pipelines,” said Burnett

He explained that both Enbridge and Kitimat LNG had chosen routes through the Coast Mountains. He proposed that the Provincial Government build a public highway through this part of the region. He stated there is only one potential area for a two lane highway.

According to Burnett, there are already gravel roads in place for logging. The proposed road is 153 kilometres long and requires two 7 km tunnels, one under mount hope and one under mount nimbus. This shortens the distance from Kitimat to Prince George to 492 km in opposition to 642 shaving 142 km off a journey to or from Prince George.

Burnett commented on several advantages this road would provide. Access to forestry including beetle kill, mining and tourism are some of the economic developments which could come from the road. In addition, the proposed highway would bring material traveling from the Huckleberry Mines closer to Stewart.

“Secondly, it brings the rest of the province and Canada 142 kilometres or a couple of hours closer to the Pacific Northwest which really is part of the Pacific gateway that both the province and the federal government have bought into consistently. Three, the impact on traffic both private and commercial. Prince George is becoming more and more of a medical referral centre for this part of the country, we’re all part of the same health region now. And this road would make it probably two, two and a half hours closer for those that are travelling by car or there is a bus that is provided by the health authority to transport people to and from Prince George. Interestingly, it would also make Terrace and Prince Rupert closer to the interior by almost the same amount,” said Burnett.

He added this would also reduce pollutant but none of the members of his group are experts in this field. Having talked to people, he was able to estimate this would reduce fuel used by Semi Trucks would be reduced by 190 litres of fuel.

With no further comments, the chair thanked him for his presentation and he sat back down.