NEWS RELEASE · 21st February 2011
Friends of Wild Salmon
Enbridge has told the University of Northern British Columbia it won't be attending a series of community forums on the company's controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Friends of Wild Salmon says Enbridge's decision undermines communities' right to open dialogue and shows the company is losing the battle for public opinion.
"If this pipeline is as good for British Columbia as Enbridge claims, they should be eager to participate in public forums," said Friends of Wild Salmon chair Jen Rice. "Their refusal to engage with the public is a clear indication that Enbridge is losing the battle for public opinion."
UNBC professor Ross Hoffman, who was organizing the forums, stated in an email that "with the exception of one community, we have been unable to secure local speakers who are willing to share a perspective that supports the project."
"If no one in our region is willing to get in front of a microphone and tell us why this project is good for out future, it speaks volumes about the risks this project poses," said Rice.
Enbridge did attend a public forum in Terrace last month, after initially declining the City of Terrace's invitation because they felt it would not be a fair and productive venue.
"The terrace forum turned out to be balanced, informative and civil. Attendees heard from both proponents and opponents of the project," said Rice. "I really don't understand why Enbridge thinks other similar events wouldn't be productive exercises."
Haisla councillor and former Friends of Wild Salmon chair Gerald Amos stated that community forums are an important addition to the federal Joint Review Panel, which does not itself fulfill the need for public dialogue.
"The quasi-legal Joint Review Panel will be inaccessible to the average citizen, and has been designed to exclude many of the issues community members and First Nations have said they are concerned about."
Afraid of criticism
Comment by Walter Fricke on 21st February 2011
Enbridge is probably afraid of hearing from concerned citizens. I was at the Terrace public forum and found it reassuring that the whole tone of the questions asked was more about concern for our environment than the number of jobs being offered. Did you know the Joint Review Panel is made up of three members, two of which are from Alberta and the other is Ontarian. I think the deck is purposely stacked against all the concerned folks along the British Columbia leg of the "proposed" pipeline route. I, for one is definitely not convinced of the safety of the pipeline, or the navigation of the treacherous waters of the Douglas Channel, or Hecate Strait by Very Large Crude Carriers. All I know for sure is, one mistake and we will be paying for it, enviromentally, for generations.