My two bits

Landowner rights are important to North Americans in general.

Landowner rights are important to North Americans in general.

In many ways, the open spaces, rich in natural beauty and resources and the opportunity to stake a claim on a piece of it are what brought a large number of our ancestors to Canada (except our First Nations ancestors who were already here, of course).

But the concerns being conjured up from the information put forward recently by the group the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Association (CAEPLA) should potentially give comfortable landowners a bit of a wake up.

If what CAEPLA says is true, pipeline companies may be making an impact on landowners and local area residents not seen since the colonialists came a-calling.

Interesting how big companies can have such huge impacts over different generations, first fur trading companies came to town. Now pipeline companies, purchasing right of ways and writing agreements which seem so simple in some ways and are put forward as straightforward but potentially having huge long-term implications for the locals.

Let’s hope things go a little better than they did the first time around for the local communities.

If the abandonment hearings result in pipeline companies being allowed to leave their abandoned and unused pipelines in place, this could be leaving landowners holding the bag.

This has really interesting implications for federal, provincial, regional and municipal relations as well.

In B.C., with 90 per cent of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project being on Crown land, responsibility might be sliding downhill to the taxpayers, with regional districts and provinces left with the financial responsibility should the pipe have to come out of the ground, or surrounding soil and water be contaminated by remnant chemicals in the abandoned line.

It seems hard to swallow for people on the ground in these potentially impacted areas they won’t get to decide this for themselves. Instead, it will be the federal review process and National Energy Board who will be deciding on these things, especially given their close relationship with the federal government – who has publicly touted the benefits of the pipeline – and their lack of accountability to regional and provincial governments, which will be the ones most likely to have to deal with the mess once the pipeline is obsolete.

Good thing the Conservative government is proposing shortening the environmental review of the Northern Gateway Project by shortening the time limit on all current and new review processes to 24 months. After all, we wouldn’t want anything like due process and ensuring the long-term protection of the landowners to get in the way of pipeline companies making billions of dollars in profits.