Nelson city council took a stand in opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project, but one councillor questioned whether it was the right path for the City.
The Enbridge Pipelines came up for discussion at Monday’s council meeting after councillor Candace Batycki introduced a notice of motion that city oppose the proposed pipeline and endorse the Nelson-based Kootenay to Kitimat Caravan.
While the majority of council voted in support of the motion, councillor Bob Adams had concerns.
“I’m not personally opposed to it but I don’t think the City of Nelson should be getting involved with something that is so far away and is actually private enterprise,” said Adams.
The propose pipelines would run from Bruderheim in central Alberta to Kitimat.
The project is headed by Calgary-based company Enbridge Inc. who, according to their corporate overview “transport[s] energy, operating the world’s longest, most sophisticated crude oil and liquids transportation system.”
Adams was concerned about the message the City’s decision would have on other private enterprises in the community.
“What are we going to do if a bunch of people come in with a petition and say we don’t want a Walmart anymore? Would we not let them buy any more property and build a new store? I just think it is a step too far,” said Adams. “The Province and the Feds need to be the ones to deal with it I think, personally, not the City of Nelson. It’s too big an issue for us.”
But as the Caravan departs for Kitimat on Monday at noon from City Hall, Batycki said the effects of the proposed pipeline could have global impacts.
“On one level we’re all on the same planet, certainly anything that effects our oceans effects all of us and oil spills aren’t a potential with that amount of tanker traffic being talked about they are an eventuality,” said Batycki. “On the global citizen level or at least on the citizen of British Columbia level I think it’s important to all of us.”
The notice of motion at the council meeting came at the request of the Kootenays for a Pipeline-Free BC, and Batycki said it was something she felt to bring to council’s attention.
“I feel it’s something that is important to the citizens of Nelson,” she said. “There was evidence of this in the letters to the editor that we’ve seen and the turn out to the even that they had at the Capitol a little while ago. Now we have a bunch of citizens taking two weeks out of their very short summer to go on the road and do some community engagement on this in support of other communities and I really wanted to support that.”
While Batycki recognized Adams’ concern around private enterprise, she echoed councillor Paula Kiss’s – who chaired the meeting – comment that the proposed area is home to many industries that should be acknowledged.
“As councillor Kiss so articulately pointed out, the oil and gas industry is one industry, but there are also fisheries and tourism. The first nations have their own title and rights, which are hugely important to me, the citizens of BC and the organizers of the Caravan. There is an aspect of our government respecting their government,” said Batycki.
The Kootenay to Kitimat Caravan has also gained support across the country.
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, said “This type of grassroots action on the pipeline is part of what it will take to turn Canada into an environment nurturing country.”
Alex Atamanenko, MP for the South Interior, will be speaking at the send off event on Monday, with MLA for Nelson-Creston Michelle Mungall and Batycki.
“I recently spent time in the Terrace Kitimat area and had a chance to see the opposition to Enbridge first-hand”, said Atamanenko.
“I would like to congratulate those involved in the Caravan and thank them for taking this important message of support to northern BC communities that are directly in the path of the proposed pipeline.”
The project was proposed in mid-2000s and has been postponed several times including a request last year from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the National Energy Board’s joint review panel that Enbridge provide additional information on the design and risk assessment of the pipelines due to the difficult access and unique geographic location of the proposed project.