THE COMPANY behind a contentious oil pipeline project has no place sponsoring a local environmental award according to the organization which won, but declined to accept it.
Skeena Wild Conservation Trust was one of three nominees picked for the Green award which is sponsored by Enbridge and which is one of the categories making up the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Excellence Awards.
But Skeena Wild and fellow nominees the Lakelse Watershed Society and local clothier Urban Colour all declined their nominations prior to winners being announced at a chamber banquet Nov. 24.
Despite all three declining, a winner – Skeena Wild – was announced at the Nov. 24 banquet.
“It’s very clear that Enbridge is using sponsorship of community events as a public relations tool to help gain social licence for its project,” said Skeena Wild’s Julia Hill. “We are not interested in being a pawn in their PR game.”
Hill did say the chamber’s annual business excellence wards are important because the community is filled with businesses, organizations and people that deserve recognition for a job well done.
“We really encourage the chamber to find someone to sponsor the green award that’s more in line with our community values,” said Hill, adding that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline Project poses a threat to wild salmon habitat.
In a letter sent to the chamber, Hill said a local business had offered to be a sponsor this year or next year.
However, changing sponsors isn’t that easy, said chamber of commerce executive director Carol Fielding.
“I don’t think it’s something we want to change yet,” said Fielding, adding the chamber board will discuss how to proceed with next year’s sponsorship of the award. “We’ll talk to Enbridge and see how they feel about it.”
The chamber came under criticism earlier this year by saying it would welcome any investment should Enbridge receive approval for its $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline plan to pump crude oil from Alberta to a marine terminal at Kitimat.
The chamber also said it was taking a neutral position on the project pending completion of a federal environmental review that’s now underway.