Chamber takes Enbridge pulse

Survey to canvas Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce members with questions relating to proposed mega project south of town

TERRACE will soon know what its business community thinks of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project.

The Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce is conducting a survey to see if its members support the plan to build a twin 1,170 kilometre pipeline to ship Alberta crude to a marine export terminal at Kitimat.

A list of questions is currently being drafted to send to the chamber’s 287 members, many of whom are local business owners.

The survey is in line with a plan adopted by the chamber two years ago.

In February 2012, just after Terrace city council voted to oppose Northern Gateway, the chamber executive released a letter saying that while it took a neutral stance to the pipeline project until the review panel had released its report, it did welcome new industry to the area. The chamber board also wrote a letter to Enbridge saying it would maintain a neutral stance on the project until a decision was reached by the federal joint review panel charged with heading the public consultation segment of the environmental assessment.

The joint review panel in December recommended to the federal government that it approve Northern Gateway as long as it could meet 209 conditions.

The chamber plans to release the survey to its members by early February, according to executive director Carol Fielding.

Fielding thinks chamber members are divided over whether to support the controversial Enbridge project. She noted that a presentation from Enbridge vice president Janet Holder before the December 19 release of the federal review panel decision was followed by one of the largest discussions in the history of such chamber luncheons that included many critical questions posed to Holder.

The chamber board’s 2012 decision had followed Terrace city council’s resolution to oppose the project getting passed with a 5 to 2 vote in February of 2012.

The open letter, addressed to Northern Gateway and other investors, said that, as the “voice of business” the chamber was “very concerned with the latest position of our city council.”

While Terrace city council is opposed, the Kitimat council decided some years ago to remain neutral pending the release of the joint review panel review.

But Kitimat council recently passed a resolution to conduct a plebiscite within the community to determine how many residents support or don’t support the project. The plebiscite takes place Saturday, April 12, with advance polls on April 2 and 9.

The Kitimat council has already decided on the question it will ask: “Do you support the final report recommendations of the Joint Review Panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Authority and the National Energy Board, that the Enbridge Northern Gateway project be approved subject to 209 conditions set out in Volume 2 of the JRP’s Final Report?”

Kitimat councillors also debated adding other questions involving Northern Gateway to determine if opinion on the pipeline would change if it was linked to an oil refinery and whether people are more concerned about the pipeline or crude-carrying tankers.

Kitimat municipal officials are expected to prepare the wording of the questions for discussion soon.