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REPORTING · 17th February 2011
Walter McFarlane
Enbridge was in Kitimat on February 2nd for an open house. The community came out to look at several displays about the project. Shortly after 7pm, a presentation began. For the most part, the presentation was similar to the one given at the Terrace forum the previous night.

The purpose was to provide an overview of the project and to ask questions on a variety of topics. Morgan Yates an Enbridge community relations and aboriginal affairs director gave the presentation.

“We’ve organized this event to provide information to the public so the local residents could better understand in particular the technical aspects of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines Project,” said Yates. He recognized the meeting was being held on the traditional territory of the Haisla First Nations.

“This project can be designed, built and operated safely. Pipeline and marine transportation technology have both improved significantly in recent decades and these improvements will be incorporated. The project will provide lasting and significant economic benefits to Canada, to British Columbia and specifically to Northwest region of BC,” said Yates.

He explained the pipeline was under rigorous review which will answer the questions whether the project will proceed without harming the environment and if the project is in the public interest. If the answer to either of these questions is no, the project will not proceed.

Yates explained the purpose of the project; to export oil to Asia. At the moment, the largest consumer of Canadian Oil is the United States and Enbridge would open new markets.

He acknowledged and addressed the largest public concern; many British Columbians wanted to develop sustainable economies based on the environment. He stated it was their belief the project would be compatible with these activities. Yates explained oil and environment go hand in hand in Newfoundland, Norway and Scotland.

He said they need to consider the technology behind oil transportation has improved and it would be regulated by the National Energy Board. He also expressed no NEB pipeline constructed in the last 35 years has experienced a leak or rupture. Yates expressed the amount of oil spills have declined.

Yates explained there are four tanker routes planned with simulations completed to show tankers can navigate each route. He added with the improved navigational aids, screening and the escort tugs, the Exxon Valdez magnitude would occur less then 1 in 15,000 years.

He went through the Joint Review Panel and explained they were made of two different groups, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the NEB. It would consult with the public and make a decision.

He said the pipeline would be constructed close to several First Nations communities, on crown land and on traditional territories. He expressed some First Nations are opposed while others have expressed ‘Conditional Interest.’ He said they would not cross First Nations land without their support.

Finally, he said this would create an increase in Canadian Gross Domestic Product of 270 billion dollars over 30 years. For BC, the tax revenue during construction is estimated around 165 million dollars and the tax revenue during 30 years of operation are estimated at 1.2 billion dollars.

“Significant benefits will arise. In particular, during construction and operation of the terminal pipe here near Kitimat and also the regional pipeline and operation. The direct tax revenues from the terminal pipe alone are estimated about 10 million dollars a year. 300 million dollars over 30 years,” said Yates.

He expressed the construction would be worth 1,700 aggregate years of direct construction, the value of the goods and services supplied will be over 200 billion dollars.

“And to give some context to those numbers, local residents can compare them with the cost of valued local [services]. For example, the cost to keep Roy Wilcox School open, the annual operating cost for an Ice Arena, the Cost to continue or expand key hospital services and the cost of the annual snow removal budget,” said Yates.

Yates concluded the project could be designed, built and operated safely. He said the technology has improved and if the project proceeds, it would improve response capabilities. It would provide income and compliment other environmental sectors.

Following the presentation, there was an opportunity for local residents to ask questions of a panel of Enbridge representatives.