Northern Gateway Pipeline: Councillors In Terrace, B.C., Vote To Oppose Enbridge Project

Northern Gateway

First Posted: 02/15/2012 12:13 pm Updated: 02/15/2012 7:40 pm

TERRACE, B.C. - B.C. Energy Minister Rich Coleman has criticized Terrace city council for its decision to oppose the $5.5 billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

Coleman said Wednesday he can't tell municipal politicians what to do, but he prefers local politicians to follow the B.C. government and hold off on taking a stand on the controversial project until the completion of federal environmental review hearings in 2013.

"We've said all along, the premier's said all along, we're going to wait for that (joint review panel) process. I think some of these other jurisdictions should do the same," he said.

Coleman said he believes it's important to let the federal review process play itself out before deciding whether or not to support the Enbridge Inc., (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway project.

More than 60 B.C. First Nations and aboriginal organizations have signed a declaration opposing the plan to build a 1,177-kilometre twin pipeline from Alberta to the northwest B.C. port of Kitimat, where huge oil tankers will ship oil to Asia and the United States.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities also voted against the oil pipeline at their meeting last fall. Terrace announced its opposition at a council meeting earlier this week.

"You've got to wait until you hear it all," said Coleman. "This is an important project for Canada, everybody knows that, and through this process there could be tweaks and changes that would actually allay people's concerns that may be out there."

Terrace councillors voted 5-2 Monday to oppose the pipeline, saying the project may be good for Ottawa and Alberta, but leaves Terrace, Kitimat and the surrounding communities with few benefits and most of the environmental risk.

The Terrace area's New Democrat MLA said Terrace council has shown leadership on a difficult issue and he expects other area councils to take similar action.

"It's essentially what people have been saying: We hold all the risk and Alberta gets all the benefits," Skeena MLA Robin Austin said.

But so far, Terrace is on its own in the northwest, with councils in the neighbouring cities of Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Smithers deciding to hold off on taking a position on Northern Gateway until after the review process.

Former Prince George mayor Colin Kinsley has taken on the job of promoting the pipeline in the region.

Austin urged the B.C. Liberals to state their position on Northern Gateway, saying Alberta is actively lobbying to ensure its interests are fully represented in Ottawa and before the review hearings.

"It's absolutely incredible to think the government of Alberta is actually involved as an interveners, working in the interest of their citizens and our government is nowhere to be seen on this issue," Austin said.

"I don't know what's going on with the B.C. Liberals," he said. "It's time that they came out and took a position and defended what they believe are the interests of British Columbians."

Terrace Mayor Dave Pernarowski, who says he personally doesn't support Northern Gateway, was one of two council members who voted against the motion to oppose the pipeline, arguing that Terrace should wait for the review process to conclude.

He said he now sees his job as working to ensure investors consider Terrace open for business, just not the oil pipeline business.

Terrace businessman Steve Smyth said the pipeline doesn't run through the city and there was no reason for council to publicly declare its opposition.

"It sends the entirely wrong message to the investment community," he said.

Enbridge, which has been working to sign 10-per-cent equity stake agreements with the estimated 43 First Nations along the pipeline's Alberta-to-B.C. route, could not be reached for comment.

Enbridge officials say they have up to 10 equity agreements with B.C. First Nations, but so far, only two First Nations who have publicly declared deals, with one being rescinded and the second under review.

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  • Here are a few details of the major investment deal coming soon between Canada and China, as well as a list of what CBC chief political correspondent Terry Milewski calls a "small blizzard of incremental agreements," signed in Beijing. <em>With files from CBC</em>. (Diego Azubel-PoolGetty Images)

  • The Big One: FIPA

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement (FIPA) between Canada and China the first "comprehensive economic agreement" between the two countries. In fact, what was signed by Harper and Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao in Beijing is not the final deal, but a declaration of intent: Now it must be legally reviewed and ratified by both governments, which for Canada will mean a debate in the House of Commons. Once both countries complete this process, it will need to be formally signed to take effect. This deal will protect Canadians investing in China, as well as Chinese investors in Canada, from "discriminatory and arbitrary practices." Once in place, investors can have more confidence that rules will be enforced and valuable business deals will be subject to predictable legal practices. Harper told reporters in Beijing he "absolutely" expected that it will make a "practical difference." "The agreement does not override existing Canadian law in regard to foreign investment and foreign investment review," Harper said. "Those laws remain in place." Negotiations for this agreement took 18 years, and key players in manufacturing, mining and the financial sectors were consulted to get to this stage. It's not unusual for Canada to have this kind of an agreement with a trading partner. FIPAs are in force with 24 other countries that trade with Canada, and active negotiations are underway with 10 other countries, according to the government's announcement. (Diego Azubel-PoolGetty Images)

  • The 'Blizzard' (By Sector):

    (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

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  • Natural Resources:

    - A MOU between Natural Resources Canada and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to collaborate on scientific research on sustainable development of natural resources. The government release touts benefits including new technologies for resource firms, carbon emissions reduction strategies, reduced environmental impacts and natural hazards from resource development, and new opportunities for Canadian suppliers of equipment and services. - A MOU spelling out a "framework" for Parks Canada and China's state forestry administration to collaborate and share scientific expertise in the management of national parks, natural reserves and other protected areas. The agreement includes language around ecological restoration, conservation measures for endangered wildlife, wetlands development, and the preservation of forests and wetlands. (<a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr: eleephotography</a>)

  • Energy

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  • Science and Technology

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Filed by Michael Bolen  |