NEWLY-ELECTED city councillors may change the city’s official stance on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project from neutral to opposed.
A notice of motion filed by rookie councillor James Cordeiro Jan. 23 will put the topic back on the table when council next meets Feb. 13.
Cordeiro, who is opposed to the $5.5 billion project, is among those councillors now questioning the previous council’s decision.
The neutral position was reached in a 4-3 vote last April but two councillors who voted to remain neutral – Carol Leclerc and Brad Pollard – are no longer on council and a head count now puts the majority into the ‘no pipeline’ camp.
Mayor Dave Pernarowski and councillor Brian Downie joined Leclerc and Pollard in voting for the neutrality motion while councillors Bruce Bidgood, Lynne Christiansen and another former councillor, Bruce Martindale, voted against.
That vote came after the Kitimat-Terrace and District Labour Council lobbied the city to take a stand against the project, saying jobs from the Northern Gateway project aren’t worth the risk.
“I think neutrality is really a have your cake and eat it too position,” said Cordeiro before he submitted his notice of motion. “It lacks a bit of courage.”
He said voters elected candidates who opposed the project in last November’s municipal election.
During that campaign current councillors Marylin Davies, Stacey Tyers, Bruce Bidgood, Lynne Christiansen and Cordeiro declared their opposition.
The sixth councillor, Brian Downie, has repeatedly supported taking a neutral position, saying the pipeline proposal should first proceed through the environmental review now just underway.
Mayor Dave Pernarowski, in running against Martindale who had long proclaimed his opposition to Northern Gateway, changed his position during the November elections.
“I’ll fight the project arm in arm if that’s what it takes,” said Pernarowski at a Nov. 9 all candidates forum.
Cordeiro said his intent is for city council to endorse two motions passed at the 2010 Union of BC Municipalities convention.
One opposes the construction of an oil pipeline in this region and the other calls on the provincial and federal governments to keep oil tankers away from the north coast.
In response to those motions last year, the provincial energy ministry said oil tanker traffic is important to B.C., and that without it, places like Vancouver Island wouldn’t receive necessary fossil fuels.
“The provincial government has been clear that development of oil and gas can only move forward in a scientifically sound, environmentally safe manner,” the province said in a statement.
The federal natural resources ministry said a ban now would require a decision being made prior to the completion of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel, an environmental review of the project, which would be counter productive.
The federal ministry of environment responded that to make opinions heard, they should be brought before the panel.