City decides on participation level for Enbridge review process

The City of Terrace has decided to register for intervenor status with the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines project review panel, and has also chosen the right to provide a final argument.

  • Jul. 12, 2011 1:00 p.m.

The City of Terrace has decided to register for intervenor status with the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines project review panel, and has also chosen the right to provide a final argument.

Council agreed unanimously to the idea at a meeting at city hall last night. Missing from the meeting were mayor Dave Pernarowski and councillors Carol Leclerc and Lynne Christiansen.

The joint review panel will be holding regulatory hearings for the proposed pipeline project, and the city can participate by registering to be an intervenor, something that it has done in other regulatory processes.

Council had three options to choose from: register to be an intervenor; register as an intervenor and provide a final argument; register as an intervenor, provide a final argument and provide evidence.

Registering as an intervenor means that the city would receive notices as each document is filed with the joint review panel; this option allows the city to be informed without having to provide an opinion.

The second option – registering  to be an intervenor and to reserve the right to provide final verbal or written argument – gives the city a chance to make a final argument in the future if it wants, but also gives it the chance to decline the final argument.

The third option, which includes providing evidence, would most likely require legal advice.

Councillor Bruce Bidgood suggested the second option, with councillor Bruce Martindale seconding it.

“Given the fact that Terrace city council has articulated a position of wanting to be neutral, it would seem apropos for us to receive all the documents, and I’m thinking at some point in time we might actually develop an opinion after reviewing this information,” he said.

Councillor Brian Downie pointed out that this might lead to council discussing its position for the fourth time in one term. Council has debated its stance to Enbridge multiple times this term and decided to remain neutral for the time being.

Martindale said that the joint review panel process will probably be going on after the municipal elections this fall.

“I don’t think it means we have to have a debate or a discussion,” he said. “Even if we’re going there, just to explain to them why we’ve taken a neutral position. I think that’s responsible of us as a council, if it comes down to that, because that’s what we need to be able to explain to people, the kind of discussions we’ve had and what that neutral position came from.”

Bidgood said the city didn’t know what information would come up over the course of the review, adding that this council will probably not be the ones to give the final opinion on the project.

“I think saying we want to reserve final arguments neither detracts nor proposes to support this particular initiative,” he said. “So I think it’s the right action.”

Councillor Brad Pollard, acting as deputy mayor, said it was a great motion.

“I like the idea of being open enough…up to the next election, when we have a new council here, they get to start the whole thing again and start their own decisions.”

Enbridge Northern Gateway’s proposed $5.5 billion twin pipeline project would transport oil and condensate between Alberta and a marine terminal in Kitimat. The project assessment is currently going through the Joint Review Panel, an independent body authorized by the environment minister and the National Energy Board.