THE TERRACE business community’s leading voice says it would welcome any economic development opportunities arising from Enbridge’s $5.5 billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline should it be approved.
And the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce also says it is taking a neutral position on the project pending the completion of an extensive federal environmental review.
The statements are in an open letter to Enbridge and to other investors released yesterday by the chamber.
It’s in response to this week’s decision by city council to effectively oppose Enbridge’s plan to pump oil from Alberta to a marine export terminal at Kitimat.
Council members cited environmental risk and inadequate economic benefits to the city as reasons for opposing the pipeline.
“It is our position that this decision was premature and as a Chamber, we support economic development as it underpins all of our social programs be it education, health or infrastructure,” the chamber said in the letter bearing the name of first vice president and acting president Gordon Stamp-Vincent.
It acknowledged that capital investment goes “where it is appreciated and where opportunities abound.”
The letter said the chamber wants the environmental review to “assess the concerns of affected parties and contrast them with procedures and equipment being positioned to mitigate any and all perceived risks.”
City council had taken a neutral position to the pipeline plan last spring but councillors voted in during last November’s municipal elections were mostly opposed. That set the stage for the Feb. 13 decision to oppose the pipeline plan.
Mayor Dave Pernarowski, while personally opposing the pipeline, had urged council to remain neutral.
Council’s decision has drawn support from groups and individuals connected to the movement opposing Enbridge.
But it has also been criticized by provincial energy minister Rich Coleman who said it would have been better to wait for the environmental review to be completed before taking a for or against stand.
The Terrace Economic Development Authority (TEDA), which is primarily financed and guided by the city, has already announced it won’t be having any more discussions with Enbridge as to possible economic gains arising from the Northern Gateway plan.
Environmental hearings resume today with a two-day session in Prince Rupert.
Below is the full text of the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce letter.
To Northern Gateway and other investors:
We, the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce, “the voice of business,” are very concerned with the latest position of our City Council, as one of opposition to your project, we want to encourage all interests and investments in our part of beautiful BC.
It is our position that this decision was premature and as a Chamber, we support economic development as it underpins all of our social programs be it education, health or infrastructure.
We know that without business and industry, we don’t have employment, we don’t have tax revenue, and we won’t have the services we have come to expect from our governments – local, provincial or federal.
We appreciate the risks you assume in pursuing projects requiring massive injections of capital, all with no guarantees they will be approved or even profitable. This is our free enterprise system; this is capital markets at work. We also understand that capital does not require a passport…it goes where it is welcome, where it is appreciated and where opportunities abound.
Terrace has been without major development for many years now and the Terrace business community has struggled. We are encouraged by the recent investments that have been approved and look forward to many more projects coming to our area that will continue to build our economic landscape.
The Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce is taking a position of neutrality regarding the Northern Gateway Project as it is subject to the Joint Environmental Review process.
We want the objective panel of experts to assess the concerns of affected parties and contrast them with procedures and equipment being positioned to mitigate any and all perceived risks. It is important that all voices are heard and all questions are asked and answered.
During this process and while we each deliberate on our final decision on this project, we feel it is important that a dialogue continue between Northern Gateway and the Terrace business community. Terrace, as the service and supply hub for the Northwest, will welcome the opportunity to participate in your project if approved.
Acting President (1st Vice President)