Northerners tour Fort McMurray

Terrace residents included in Enbridge-sponsored visit to the oilsands capital this week

MORE THAN 20 northern residents spent a day this week touring various Fort McMurray area oilsands developments courtesy of Enbridge.

The company decided such a tour was in order after facing a number of questions about the origin of the crude oil it hopes to pump for customers through its planned Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to a marine terminal at Kitimat, says company official Ivan Giesbrecht.

We thought it would be a lot easier to show them rather than to simply tell them,” said Giesbrecht.

Included in the group was Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Carol Fielding, Terrace Economic Development Authority economic development officer Evan van Dyk and Alex Pietrella, the executive director of the Kitimat-Terrace Industrial Development Society.

It also included Smithers resident Josette Weir who has not only been a consistent critic of the Enbridge Northern Gateway plan but also of the federal environmental review of the project.

The group includes civic leaders and business people,” said Giesbrecht.

Burns Lake mayor Luke Strimbold was another participant as was Barry Pages, the chair of the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District.

The group has been quite impressed at the size and scope of the operation here,” said Giesbrecht.

One tour stop took in the Suncor development, a client of Enbridge’s.

The group examined a tailings pond which has now been reclaimed and replanted, said Giesbrecht.

Enbridge has been hosting tours of several locations considered key in its efforts to seek approval for its Northern Gateway pipeline.

The location list includes areas of Michigan which were affected when an Enbridge pipeline broke in 2010, spilling oil into the Kalamazoo River.

The company has spent close to $800 million to clean up the spill and to cover other expenses.