Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski says the now approved Northern Gateway pipeline project threatens the environment and the way of life in the north, and that he doesn’t believe the federal government’s decision today is the final say on the matter.
“It wasn’t surprising given the previous decision by the joint review panel, however I don’t think the federal government’s approval at this point in any way finalizes this issue. I think they are still up against a lot of opposition in British Columbia,” said Pernarowski. “I think our community continues to strongly oppose a project like this that could have harmful impacts to our environment and to our way of life in northern British Columbia.”
Terrace council voted against the project in 2012 with a 5-2 vote, but Pernarowski at the time voted to stay neutral until a later point in time. When a new council forms after the local government elections this November another motion related to Northern Gateway could be brought forward, said the mayor.
Today in Ottawa during the morning’s question period federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair referenced Terrace council’s decision in presenting a list of opponents to the project.
“Municipalities? Kitimat. Terrace. Prince Rupert. Smithers. They all say no,” Mulcair said, as quoted by the CBC.
In a press conference held after the government’s approval, Enbridge Vice President of Western Access Janet Holder and CEO Al Monaco spoke to the fact that they still need to work on meeting the stipulations of the joint review panel’s 209 conditions before construction of the double pipeline from northern Alberta to Kitimat begins, a start point they say they have pegged for 12-15 months from now.
“What is crystal clear to us is that safety and environmental protection have to come first. If we can’t prove out safety and environmental protection on these projects the economic benefits don’t matter. In other words the economic benefits alone are not enough to sustain public support,” said Monaco.
Pernarowski said he wants to see the concerns of First Nations addressed in greater depth, something included in several of the conditions, which was also promised by Holder and Monaco.
“There needs to be a lot of consultation on the over 200 issues mentioned as outstanding by the joint review panel, and much more consultation with First Nations about how those issues will be mitigated. Then and only then would the communities in B.C. be able to take a serious look at this,” Pernarowski said.
TIMELINE: History of the Northern Gateway pipeline plan in B.C, from 2002 to Now