Watch the presentation on Kitimat Daily Videos
With the recent decision by Terrace to oppose the Enbridge Pipeline, Kitimat City Council received a presentation on February 20th, 2012, by Dieter Wagner of Douglas Channel Watch concerning the topic of “Sitting on the Fence”. Because of the 7 presentations that night, he was limited to 10 minutes. Normally residents are provided 15 minutes to deliver their information.
“Our group and many, many others cannot comprehend why our Mayor and Council continue the position of neutrality regarding the Northern Gateway. We are requesting you to abandon this position and officially oppose this project,” said Wagner.
He explained they were elected and entrusted to educate themselves on the issues of the town and surroundings. Kitimat has a lot to lose from the project by the inevitable spill of diluted bitumen.
“There is a massive amount of factual information available on everything concerning this project, almost all of it negative,” said Wagner.
Citing the TERMPOL documents, he pointed out this includes death and illness caused by ‘Diluted Bitumen’. In the case of a spill, the spill area becomes lethal, causing nerve damage to people where there have been spills, such as in the Kalamazoo.
He stated most spills are discovered by people who smell them, such as in Kalamazoo and Chiluba. Wagner pondered who would detect such a spill on the Kitimat River where there is nobody to report it.
His next concern is the inadequacies of emergency response along the water courses in town. ‘The best technology is not an absolute safeguard’ he stated, referring to the recent cruise ship disaster in Italy. Most accidents are caused by human error and not equipment malfunction.
He said in there were 804 Enbridge Pipeline spills recorded by Polaris Institute between 1999 and 2010. These spills delivered 169 thousands barrels of oil into the environment.
Wagner suggested Council make a decision to help influence the JRP because there are many people in Kitimat who oppose the project.
“The impartiality of the project, namely the JRP, is already threatened by Federal and Provincial Government officials. Mr. Harper in China says ‘This project’s going to go, you’re going to get the oil.’ So why are we having the JRP Hearings?” said Wagner.
“The environmental movement has been labelled as ‘Enemies of the State’ by Prime Minister Harper and Minister Oliver, yet support and endorsement for these so called Enemies and Radicals is growing. There are more donations from private individuals coming in then ever before. When our government labels everyday citizens who are actively participating in democracy and the process they’re in, we feel we need to speak out against that,” said Wagner.
They do not believe in the risk of the spill, they believe in the certainty of a spill. He quoted Rafe Mair at the February Rally in Rupert. Wagner expressed the export of oil will hurt consumers by driving up the price of gas and diesel which will also drive up consumer prices.
He told Council newspapers across the country are reporting on how this pipeline is not in the best interest of the country and the problems with the proposal including the international and global issues.
He stated deals with China prevent Canadians from using the country’s oil reserve for domestic use and prevent the companies from building up-graders and refineries.
Haida Gwaii voted unanimously to ban large crude carriers in northern waters. Terrace also voted in opposition on February 13th. The Haisla have voted opposition to the pipeline. He encouraged Council to do the same.
He also called out the Councillors who promised the referendum in the 2011 municipal election. Those Councillors included Councillor Phil Germuth who voted against the motion to table it until after the Joint Review Panel and Councillors Mary Murphy and Edwin Empinado who voted to table it.
“Edwin Empinado and Mary Murphy backed down from this promise at the last council meeting. I wonder if this is something they learned from Ex-Premier Gordon Campbell who has moved loads and loads of…”
“We are not knocking down our Council now. You are making a presentation please, you have one minute,” said Mayor Joanne Monaghan.
Wagner said he did not intend to offend Council. “Promises were made and not kept,” he stated.
”That’s right but it is something against my Council and that’s not what we have people coming here for,” said Monaghan.
He requested council continue to learn and share the information with the community about the proposal. However, Council should abandon their neutrality and oppose the pipeline.
Murphy explained her position. “Once we became Councillors, we represent everybody in the town, not just one particular group,” she said. “We represent every citizen in Kitimat now so personal opinions and what we believe ourselves have to go to the back and represent everyone in town,” said Murphy.
She also pointed out that Ellis Ross at the Joint Review Panel in Kitimat Village stated, he was waiting for the review panel to make their decision. There are ways to manage spills such as automated shut off valves and they are waiting for the recommendations to come through.
Comments from the audience gallery raised the obvious question of Murphy’s logic: ‘how can Council represent the people of Kitimat without a referendum’ and several publicly questioned their election decisions.
Monaghan took offence to her Council being called out for breaking election promises
Murphy justified her broken promise by saying the Council represents the community, not one group.