REPORTING · 29th February 2012
Last evening Smithers Council voted 5-1 to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway project. Monday, Prince Rupert voted against it unanimously.
Councillor Phil Brienesse stated, "My decision was based in part on new information that came out from recent decisions made in Terrace, SQCRD (Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District) , and Prince Rupert that made it clear that local governments had the right and are clearly permitted to provide information to the Joint Review Panel.
Since the previous motion was tabled with the reasoning being that it was felt we should not be influencing the JRP it seemed appropriate to bring forth a new motion at this time taking into consideration that we made the decision based on the information currently available."
Prince Rupert Council held their regular meeting on Monday, February 27th. They had two presenters on the Enbridge Pipeline.
The first was Dave Shannon from Terrace. He explained he was an intervener in the JRP process and put on a slide show for Council. He told Council he has gone through all the Enbridge documents.
“I’ve taken issue with a few of the simplifications which Enbridge would like the public to believe about the ease of transporting oil on the North Coast as opposed to other world ports so what I’ve done is I’ve examined some of the claims from one of the reports,” said Shannon.
Shannon showed the Council slides of other tanker ports and how the tankers have an unobstructed route to open waters. The longest one was Valdez Alaska at 90 miles and a hockey stick shaped Route.
He explained the only tanker route he was able to find which was almost as difficult as the Kitimat route is the straight of Magellan. It’s longer than the Northern Gateway route and has a lot of the same features. He also told the Prince Rupert Council it was closed to large tankers after an oil spill.
He then showed Kitimat on the same scale at the Northern Route and the Southern Route out of Douglas Channel. It also showed where the Queen of the North went down.
Shannon explained the many ways in which a Tanker can go down, most due to human errors. He also showed a slide of double hulled ships which caused spills.
He expressed concern that Transport Canada had approved the TERMPOL report. He was worried shortcuts were taken in the information released. Shannon’s final slide was a picture used by CTV showing a simplification of the route which he declared was misleading
“If this is what the average Canadian is seeing, they must be asking ‘what’s wrong with this project, why are some of us concerned about it?’” said Shannon.
Mayor of Prince Rupert, Jack Mussallem told Shannon he is on record expressing he wants the tankers to avoid the Northern Route and Triple Island and take the Southern or a Western Route.
This was followed by a presentation by the Prince Rupert Environmental Society. Gerald Stewart, Ian Dobson and Pat Murray stepped up to the Microphones. Dobson asked Council to pass a resolution to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
They presented the motion passed by Terrace at their City Council Meeting two weeks ago as well as the motion from the Queen Charlotte Regional District which called for a ban on oil tankers.
Murray explained the motion from Haida Gwaii focused on the ocean as without tankers, there could be no pipeline. She also reminded Council of the motion passed by the Union of BC Municipalities concerning the Enbridge Project.
“We urge Council not to wait until after the National Energy Board has ruled. It can be taken as an acceptance of that body as a final judge in the decision to allow or ban super tankers. That is not in the National Energy Boards Rule. The National Energy Board is only mandated to decide if the project is legal but that isn’t the main issue. What we must judge is: are the benefits worth the risk, and so far Canada has maintained a super tanker moratorium here because of our values, something the National Energy Board can’t address but City Council Can,” said Murray.
“The amount of risk which one accepts is relative to the value one places on what is being risked, and in Prince Rupert, our lives are inextricably linked to the ocean and its resources. Another reason Council’s stance is important regardless of the National Energy Board is we in Prince Rupert and our Council understand better then most people across Canada is that the First Nations in this region say no and there is a cultural resurgence on the North Coast and the lack of treaties is a reality. First Nations have a right to say no on issues critical to them and there is a broad respect of this position across the region and across cultures.”
She explained the lone dissenting vote at the UBCM stated if businesses were pushed away from communities, they would die. However, she likened the amount of jobs to the opening of a Canadian Tire in Kitimat. The marine side would simply have tankers traveling through treacherous waters threatening the seafood resources which are continually increasing in value.
“Spills are inevitable. Enbridge’s record on dealing on their pipeline spills is abysmal. They absolve themselves of all responsibility for tanker safety,” said Murray.
Prince Rupert Council Votes
Later in the meeting, a motion was put forward to send to the UBCM concerning the shipping of dangerous goods. This motion would petition the Provincial and Federal government to make the liability for cargo on a ship be the responsibility of both the carrier and the one who sold the cargo until the vessel reaches it’s destination or is outside Canadian waters.
Second, it would ask government to have the shippers of dangerous goods to pay into an emergency fund for cleaning up and compensating for damages caused by dangerous goods and cargo. It would also research clean up methods to deal with spills. Finally it would ask the government to reinstate the coast guard and safety measures to a standard that would prevent such accidents and reduce the damage. The motion was amended to include any and all damages including capital, social, cultural, ecological and financial.
Enbridge was used as an example. Events from the Exxon Valdez and how compensation was not paid out to people in a timely matter were also discussed. Councillor Anna Ashley explained she had asked Enbridge about who is responsible for a tanker spill and they told her it was out of their hands when it left the pipeline.
Councillor Joy Thorkelson pointed out, in a recent magazine issue of The Shipper, there was a four page article on liability. The article was about how the government of Canada had taken on all liability for the shipping of products and will pick up the tab. The motion was adopted to go to the North Coast Local Government Association prior to the UBCM.
Even later in the meeting, the Prince Rupert Council voted unanimously to oppose Enbridge. Councillor Jennifer Rice said Enbridge has been looking for the input of communities and many communities are weighing their neutral stance. She stated because Enbridge is asking communities for input, they should take a formal stance on the project. She suggested passing motions similar to Haida Gwaii and Terrace. She added that silence will be taken as acceptance, a quote used earlier in the meeting.
Ashley stated she will be voting in favour and began to fire off reasons. The Rupert Council have heard presentations from Enbridge, Community Members and it has been in the news. She stated Prince Rupert would get nothing out of it and the benefits did not outweigh the risks. She stated this was exporting jobs to other countries and the oil could be refined in Canada. She had problems with the ability to clean up the spill, navigate the channel and they didn’t have the ability to get to the tankers in the case of high seas. The economic benefits will not go to Prince Rupert, it will go to the Province for circulation while Rupert takes all the risks.
Councillor Gina Garon stated common sense convinced her to vote in favour because the waters would be difficult to navigate for a large carrier. She reflected on Shannon’s presentation and how the route was difficult to navigate.
Mussallem said: “I think there is an appropriate time and place to vote on these matters and I think solely, taking into consideration, this Council as a governing body that whether we are for something or whether we are against it, we are better off to wait until the full review process is done, the estimated time for the whole review process is the end of 2013 and then I think, once you have all the information.”
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson stated she would have the same opinion one year from now as she had today. She is 100% opposed.
Rice reiterated the Joint Review Panel has not asked Council for their opinion so they should not wait for the panel to decide when to ask Council for their opinion, they should give their opinion unsolicited. She added that local government makes decisions regardless of the processes which are occurring.
Thorkelson said she would agree with waiting if the progress was not loaded. If the Joint Review Panel would weigh everything and come up with an unbiased decision. However Prime Minister Harper and Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, have said the project is going ahead. This has made the Joint Review Panel a ‘Dog with no teeth.’
While she stated this decision may not affect the decision of the Federal Government or the JRP: “However, I do Feel that we should be one of the leading communities that says the risks outweigh the benefits for our community, we do not want to see it go ahead because the risks outweigh the benefits to our community and if all the other communities of British Columbia come to that position individually and then the Provincial and Federal Government will have to tread more carefully,” said Thorkelson.
She reiterated she would agree with waiting for the process to resolve except the Prime Minister has shown a disregard for it. Ashley agreed. She appreciated the Mayor’s position but they are expected to make decision with an open mind and if new information comes up through the Joint Review Process, they could change their mind. However, it should not stop them from taking a position about protecting their water and community now.
The motion was called and carried. A motion was made to submit the motion to the Joint Review Process. It was called and carried.
Who does the NEB/JRP work for?
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 3rd March 2012
Check out Andrew Nikiforuk's article on the NEB: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2011/06/17/NEB/
And Andrew Leach's response for a balanced discussion (read comments at the end for rebuttals): http://andrewleach.ca/energy/if-youre-going-to-make-accusations-you-best-back-them-up/#more-577
IMO, I don't think it is in our best interests to remain mute and wait for the JRP hearings to conclude their hearings - it is very unlikely that they are watching out for our interests. Even Stephen Harper has declared the NEB as being on side with Enbridge and this Conservative government.
Get your head out of the sand.
Comment by Johnny DeMedeiros Cabral on 2nd March 2012
No pun intened Mike.But for you to state ''He who has the gold,makes the rules'' is so blatantly wrong.It sounds like your either a Judge,Lawyer or Enbridge is speaking.Tell me i am wrong.Is that maybe why no last name.The people have the power.If you recall HST.If all people in this Province was to rally together.I think their would be no way this Project goes ahead.It still remains to be seen if that will happen.The wait for the JRP hearings.Sincerely John DeMedeiros Cabral
Comment by Mike on 1st March 2012
Thanks to all who voiced their thoughts on my comment. To B. Van Dyck...never once did I say I would not take a stand because I didn't think I could make a difference...keep your judgement on a persons moral character to yourself if you've never met them.
My point was: legally there is nothing that can stop this project and that we need to be thinking about something stronger than just words. Even the First Nations legally cannot stop this. The court was very clear in Delgamuukw that “the building of infrastructure … can justify the infringement of aboriginal title.” Consultation, accommodation, compensation? Yes. Veto? No.
Anyway, my point is really that as the people of the north we may want to consider some stronger methods of opposition (lawsuit?). I don't know...I do know I am worried about this project like everybody else but history has shown us lots of examples of the "Golden Rule" meaning "He who has the gold, makes the rules"
Can you hear the whispers yet Enbridge or Prime Minister?
Comment by Johnny DeMedeiros Cabral on 29th February 2012
Its nice to see other Cities in this region take a position on the debate of The northern Gateway Project along side Terraces opposistion.The cities and people of this region are sending whispers of opposing this project.Its now whispers.This is just the begining.Just wait till its screams.If this project is to go ahead when the people of this land are speaking and have spoken.Listen to the people!
Comment by B Van Dyck on 29th February 2012
We the people have the power no matter what you think. Mr Harper is counting on people like you who won't take a stand because they feel they can't do anything and this just isn't true. We need to stand with First Nations solidly against this pipeline and oil tankers. This is the only way we can protect our beautiful province for our children and beyond.
Dear Confused again,
Comment by Karen on 29th February 2012
Have you noticed how fast news travels when municipalities take a strong opposing stance on this issue which our Pime Minister endorsed long before the JRP hearings are complete?
Would locals, British Columbians and the rest of Canada have any idea how strongly we really feel about the Northern Gateway if we just "keep sweet" until the the (Harper-friendly) NEB makes it's final decision?
Are we getting the message out that it is not just First Nations and "tree huggers" who are strongly opposed to the pipeline project?
What do you think Canadians, on the whole, would think of Harper if he bulldosed this project through with it being public knowledge that most municipalities along the route strongly oppose it?
Do you think Harper would feel as confident going into the next election with such a blatant and dictatorial denial of the majorities' wishes on his record?
Does that help Mike?
Comment by Samantha on 29th February 2012
The difference it makes is that it helps give people a voice. Whether it changes the outcome or not is yet to be seen...
However, it sends a strong message to the JRP and the country, we are not prepared to bear the weight of this risk. That we are prepared to stand by our costal first nations brothers and sisters to say we too do not want to give up our communities, our lives, our health and our environment.
It says elected officials are LISTENING and are standing by their words. They are standing with integrity and unity.
Three Cheers for all the city councils stepping forward... Kitimat?
Comment by Mike on 29th February 2012
First, don't get me wrong....Enbridge, pipline, tankers, exporting jobs...all bad.
My question is: What difference does it make if towns are saying they oppose the pipeline? My understanding is municipalities have no control over anything beyond their municipal boundaries anyway so what difference does it make for a town to oppose? Other than other areas that are overseen by the Regional District, then the rest of the land is under Provincial jurisdiction and the ocean is under Federal jurisdiction. So really, does it matter what a town says other than making a political/moral statement?