In one more case of recent bad news for Enbridge, Fort St. James mayor and council voted unanimously to take a stand against Northern Gateway.
The special meeting, held tonight, July 31, included the results of the recent public opinion surveys from the community on the proposed pipeline. A number of community members sat waiting for the final decision and after over a half hour of proceeding business, the results were brought forward.
After the results were summarized for the room, council seemed very clear in their direction, with little discussion proceeding the final vote on the motion to oppose the project.
“We’ve taken a lot of delegations, a lot of presentations, we’ve tried our best to educate ourselves.
“I think we’ve done everything that we can to include the community, we’ve done surveys, opportunities for people to speak one on one with councillors,” said Councillor Riley Willick. “I would personally feel comfortable to take a position on [the project] as a district.”
“I concur,” said Councillor Rus Gingrich.
Willick then introduced the motion to come out in opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway Project, which Councillor Joan Burdeniuk seconded and subsequently passed unanimously.
“Thank-you,” said Mayor Rob MacDougall, which was then answered from the audience by Brenda Gouglas: “No, thank you,” she said and members of the public applauded in the audience.
A formal announcement will be made, and so far, the District of Fort St. James appears to be the first municipality along the direct pipeline route to come out in public opposition to the 1,177 km twin pipeline proposed to carry diluted bitumen between northern Alberta and Kitimat, B.C..
The district will now be submitting a Letter of Comment as a Government Participant in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel process to express their opposition.
The district may also choose to participate in the final hearings for the joint review panel.
Mayor and council had initially been concerned opposition voiced by the community did not represent the broader spectrum of the community before coming out on one side or the other of the large pipeline project.
“It’s just important to get enough feedback,” said Burdeniuk. “I think we’ve done that.”
She also said she was glad to see there were some responses from some in favour of the project in their survey, which gave her confidence there was input from both sides during the survey.
Councillor Dave Birdi said he felt while the project had large benefits for Canada as a whole, “the amount of money we would receive is very minimal” while he said the risks to the local environment are substantial.