Northern residents less supportive of refinery than rest of province: poll

An opinion poll released today shows northern residents support the idea of an oil refinery at Kitimat, but not as much as the rest of B.C.

An opinion poll released today shows northern residents support the idea of an oil refinery at Kitimat but not to the extent of British Columbians elsewhere.

The poll, commissioned by Kitimat Clean, the company owned by Black Press chairman David Black, indicates refinery support in the north stands at 65 per cent compared to 82 per cent in the Kootenays, 79 per cent in the Cariboo, 68 per cent in the Lower Mainland, 74 per cent in the Thompson-Okanagan and 72 per cent on Vancouver Island.

Those percentages are taken from people contacted by telephone from Sept. 10 to Sept. 20 who said they were either in favour of the plan or somewhat supportive of the plan.

Black first announced his $13 billion refinery plan in late August and on Sept. 21, applied for an environmental assessment.

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would provide crude from the Alberta oil sands for the refinery.

Black says shipping refined products overseas presents less of an environmental danger than  sending the raw product does, a factor he says should reduce opposition to the Northern Gateway plan.

The current Enbridge plan is to ship crude to Asian customers.

Black also says the construction jobs and then employment at the refinery afterward would provide significant economic benefits to the province and country.

Job creation and shipping refined rather than raw crude were cited by those who supported the project.

The environment stood out among those who opposed the plan.

So far, no oil companies or Asian customers have signed up to support the plan.

Black yesterday spoke to municipal politicians and others attending the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

The poll was conducted by non-editorial Black Press staff. It gathered 1,400 responses from the Cariboo, Kootenay, Northern B.C., Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan and Vancouver Island regions. The margin of error is estimated to be plus or minus 2.62 per cent, 19 times out of 20.