MLA unconvinced plan will work

SKEENA NDP MLA Robin Austin favours the idea of industrial investment but remains far from convinced a refinery near Kitimat is doable.

  • Mar. 12, 2013 7:00 a.m.

SKEENA NDP MLA Robin Austin says he favours the idea of industrial investment but remains far from convinced a refinery near Kitimat is doable.

“That said there are huge challenges to what David Black is proposing,” said Austin of the newspaper company chairman’s idea.

Primary among those is the actual transportation of diluted bitumen to Kitimat. By rail or pipeline, it would still be over unceded First Nations territory that do not have treaties, he said.

And Austin doesn’t expect debate to shift public opinion on the transport of the product in B.C. anytime soon.

“I think also the issue of tankers on the central and north coast of British Columbia, whether they are taking crude oil or whether they are taking a refined product, I don’t think that British Columbians on the whole are receptive to having tankers.”

Austin also has doubts the oil patch itself will get behind a refinery in Canada.

“I haven’t seen the oil industry out of Alberta show any interest in supplying David Black with any product,” he said.

The money for oil producers, suggested Austin, is through selling the raw product, and not for refining it in Canada.

As for if he think a refinery could change perception on pipelines, Austin doesn’t believe it.

“Mr. Black now needs to go speak to the First Nations along the route that he contemplates, and see how they feel about it,” he said. “I would be surprised if they looked differently upon his project than they do on the Enbridge pipeline.”

Meanwhile, Skeena Liberal candidate Carol LeClerc has given the idea qualified support.

But she said it needs to address worries about the environment and heavy oil pipelines crossing northern B.C. rivers.