The District of Fort St. was soliciting public opinion on taking a stand on the proposed Northern Gateway Project last week.
They ran an online poll and held an open house.
While not claiming to be scientifically accurate, the goal, according to Mayor Rob MacDougall was to get a sense of what the community wanted from the mayor and council in regards to the project.
Attendance at the open house at Music Makers Hall saw over 40 people attend on a sunny afternoon to express their opinions, and Mayor Rob MacDougall and the rest of council was there to speak to the public and listen to their concerns.
The online poll the district created had been completed by 129 people as of Thursday and the hard copy of the poll was completed by 22 more at the open house.
Dr. Paul Stent was one of the area residents at the open house to talk to the mayor and council, and he said the more he reads about the proposed pipeline, the less he supports it.
“The local impacts are scary in terms of what it could do … Pitka Creek … the noise of the pumping station,” he said. “All of the environmental impacts, from the tar sands all the way to Kitimat.
I’d like my grandkids to be able to enjoy the Skeena River, inlets, Kitimat and things like that.”
The district was going to be compiling the information to add to the conversation the mayor and council were having around taking a stand for or against the proposed pipeline.
This then could potentially impact any final submissions the District of Fort St. James might put forward to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel currently underway, as the district is a registered intervenor in the process.
Mayor Rob MacDougall said he did not hear anything surprising at the open house, and did not speak to anyone who was advocating for the proposed pipeline.
He expected council to discuss the survey findings and feedback at the next week’s council meeting on July 18, at which point they would decide whether or not to take a stand on the proposed pipeline. The proposed pipeline route would cross Stuart River near the community and a pump station is also proposed for south of the community as well, not far from residences on Airport Road.
The Fort St. James Sustainability Group, Enbridge and the BC Northern Gateway Landowners Association were initially invited to attend the district’s open house as a question and answer opportunity to provide information for the community members.
However, this plan changed when the Sustainability Group declined the invitation in a letter outlining their concerns with the proposed format for the open house, as they saw it in conflict with the original proposal brought forward when the group brought a request for council to take a stand at the June 13 council meeting.
“Inviting and organizing for Enbridge, the FSJ Sustainability Group and Landowners Group to share information is inconsistent with this strategy and has the potential of creating an unsafe and hostile environment,” said the letter. “An information-sharing session is not what we agreed to. Developing this type of strategy is not conducive to an open and welcome atmosphere where all community members are able to feel comfortable sharing their points of view with the mayor and council. This strategy is not an appropriate forum to solicit community perspective.”
Instead, members of the Sustainability Group attended simply as individual community members to talk to the mayor and council.