City renews call for Enbridge forum

By Kat Lee - Terrace Standard

TERRACE city council is renewing its efforts to host a public forum on Enbridge’s proposed $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The suggestion came from councillor Bruce Martindale who said the community is still in need of some sort of public discussion on the issue.

“I think this community….still needs an outlet, still needs a discussion, and still should seek that leadership from the City of Terrace,” he said at council’s Oct. 12 meeting. “Just because Enbridge has decided that they don’t want to participate in that forum doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t find a way…to bring a forum forward.”

The proposed pipeline would export oil from Alberta through northern B.C. to a marine terminal in Kitimat.

The project has been strongly criticized by aboriginal and environmental groups worried about potential pipeline spills on land and tanker mishaps at sea.

Representatives from the Kitimat-Terrace and District Labour Council asked the city this spring to co-host an information session but Enbridge officials declined to participate, citing worries over potentially unruly crowd behaviour.

Efforts from Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen to host similar meetings in different communities have also fallen short, with the company saying it will only discuss its project alongside other economic development projects in the northwest.

While council agreed that a forum was a good idea, some councillors pointed out that Enbridge would most likely not participate in the forum, having turned down the offer before.

“I think that it’s useful and important that Enbridge be in town, have a presence, present their project with the benefits, and the costs and liabilities presented as well,” councillor Brian Downie said. “I think that discussion is useful, and more than that, probably essential.”

He said council needs to go back to the company and say there is a need for this conversation.

Downie added that Enbridge has also been in town holding its own sessions.

“I do appreciate anytime Enbridge comes to town,” Martindale replied. “I don’t appreciate that they think they can control how the public is to discuss this issue.”

Martindale said council has been dictated to by Enbridge, and holding the forum would at least allow the discussion to continue.

Councillor Lynne Christiansen agreed.

“The more open this is, the more inclusive this is, the healthier, the more productive it’ll be,” she said.

Councillor Carol Leclerc supported the idea of a public forum, adding there needed to be facts provided, not just speculation.

“I think we need Enbridge there to support their arguments, and we need the other side to say ‘what about this, Enbridge?’ So we can have a fair discussion,” Leclerc said.

Council unanimously agreed to organize a forum in the next three months after first discussing who should participate.

Martindale raised the topic after the Pembina Institute’s Karen Campbell made a presentation to council. In it, she went through several reasons why Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project was not an energy solution for the area.

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