The Fort St. James Sustainability Group wishes to clarify a few things in the article The KEY to open (Courier, July 24, 2013).
The article states that Ann McCormick “spoke to Nak’azdli Health, the District and members of the Fort St. James Sustainability Group and other stakeholders before going ahead, to make sure the move was not going to create concerns for people.”
News to us.
Neither Ann McCormick nor anyone from CNC met with members of the Fort St. James Sustainability Group before going ahead, to “make sure the move was not going to create concerns” for us.
We definitely have concerns, given the significant impact that Northern Gateway may have on this community if the project is approved.
Ann did speak with Brenda Gouglas, who is a member of the Sustainability Group.
However, Brenda spoke with her as an individual and as a concerned resident of our community, and was not representing the Sustainability Group during their conversation.
Brenda spoke with Ann once renovations for the Centre were well underway, an indication that CNC’s decision to accept the funding had likely been made long before they spoke. And Brenda told Ann that she was not happy with Enbridge funding the centre.
Stating we had been consulted with prior to CNC accepting the funding implies that the funding from Enbridge did not “create concerns” for the Sustainability Group.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. We have significant concerns with Enbridge, given the company’s track record of accidents and poor safety performance.
We are concerned with companies like Enbridge buying their way into communities, instead of being good corporate citizens and operating their projects openly, honestly, and safely.
Our issue is not with the centre itself – CNC does lots in the community.
Our issue is with who is paying the bill, and with the implication that our group, which remains steadfastly opposed to Northern Gateway, has no issue with Enbridge buying favour in Fort St James.
We would prefer that Northern Gateway put its money into safety and building trust, and stop looking for brownie points to flaunt in some corporate report to shareholders who have no idea where Fort St. James is, and who care more about maximizing quarterly profits than improving literacy and community service in the Fort.
We can’t stress enough the importance of community consultation with projects like the KEY resource centre, consultation done before and not after the fact, so that there is room for comment and discussion.
That openness is how communities grow sustainably and maintain healthy partnerships.
If nothing else our participation in the Joint Review Process has demonstrated the need for open communication, transparency, and meaningful consultation on the part of companies like Enbridge.
Social licence means that a company has gained a community’s trust and confidence in their ability to operate a project safely.
Some companies, including Enbridge, seem to think that they can buy community trust and confidence instead of earning it – you can’t buy social licence, but that doesn’t stop companies with very deep pockets from trying.
Perhaps a better way to gain community approval along a pipeline route is to demonstrate that accidents and spills won’t happen, backed up by a stellar performance record and a history of building sustainable relationships with the communities in which a company operates.
Better yet, perhaps take a bold step towards a “less-warm” future and not build the Northern Gateway pipeline at all.
Fort St. James Sustainability Group