VOTERS OPPOSED to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline plan will have plenty of choice when they cast their votes for mayor and council Nov. 19.
Nearly every mayoral and council candidate spoke out against the plan to pump Alberta oil to a marine export terminal at Kitimat.
All four mayoral candidates present said the risk to the environment was too great.
“We can’t have that project,” said current mayor Dave Pernarowski. “I’ll fight that project arm in arm if that’s what it takes.”
But current city councillor and mayoral candidate Bruce Martindale, a long time opponent to Enbridge, noted that Pernarowski may not have always been against the pipeline plan.
“After three years of fighting Enbridge, I finally got the mayor to come on board,” he said.
Mayoral candidate Jennifer Lewis, in speaking of the potential environmental damage, said she didn’t want “toxic chemicals coming down our rivers.”
The current city council has decided to stay neutral on the Enbridge plan, at least until the $5.5 billion project has been run through a federal environmental approval process.
Despite his personal stance, Pernarowksi said he felt council had a “need to hear all arguments.”
That drew a rebuke from Merv Ritchie, the fourth candidate, in mentioning Pernarowski’s taking honouraria to sit on an Enbridge advisory board.
He questioned the integrity of Pernarowki’s position.
Martindale then joined in, saying city council’s neutral position is one of weakness.
“Neutrality is where Enbridge wants us to be – neutralized,” he said.
“I believe this room is opposed and this town is opposed [to Enbridge],” Martindale continued.
Pernarowski said he admitted that taking Enbridge money was wrong.
Lewis said she would not have had to wait three years to make that admission.
“I know it’s wrong from the beginning,” she said.
In a response to a question from the floor about how a city could stop Enbridge if the federal government wants Northern Gateway to be built, Lewis said there might not be a lot anyone could do.
Those city council candidates who did not directly take a stand against the Enbridge plan did say there was a need to protect the northwest’s environment, salmon and recreational opportunities.