Enbridge says it wants to talk with the B.C. government about its proposal for the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and the provincial minister say he's ready to start listening.
Communication has been strained since the province criticized the company for offering incomplete responses during cross-examination at the Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings in Prince George.
On Thursday after the hearings wrapped up in Prince George, Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway said he believes the company made headway winning public support, but admits it still has a long way to go to convince the public and the review panel that the project should go ahead.
"Our opponents have suggested that it's been rushed through ... and that's not true.
"This is a very real process, a rigorous process, and it's not done yet. We've got probably another 12 months to go.
"It's our view that we still have the opportunity to make our case to British Columbians to earn that social licence."
Stanway says the company still wants to talk with the province about its five requirements for oil pipelines.
"The five conditions that were laid out, we have no difficulty with those, we're more than happy to meet those conditions."
"We want to talk about specifics. I mean we want to know what it is the British Columbia government wants."
B.C. ready to resume talks
Meanwhile, on Thursday in Vancouver, the B.C. government also confirmed it is ready to talk with the industry, but not until February.
Environment Minister Terry Lake told reporters he will sit down with industry leaders next year to work on "world class" spill prevention and recovery regulations.
"Industry is very interested in making sure British Columbians are confident that if an accident occurs that the response is immediate and that the environment will be restored to how it was before."
Also speaking in Vancouver on Thursday, federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the B.C. Business Council that big resource projects will only go ahead if they convince ordinary Canadians it is a good thing.
"We have got to appeal on an emotive level. We have to communicate that we care, that we are doing something about it. People have to be convinced that this is advantageous to them in a very meaningful way," said Oliver.
'We will make it right'
Oliver also reminded companies that governments can't take on all the burdens of addressing public concerns about projects such as pipelines.
He told the room full of business people in Vancouver that oil, gas and other natural resource companies must shoulder the burden of addressing public concerns related to environmental and safety issues, and must convince the public that everyone — not just pipeline companies — benefit from expansion.
Brenda Kenney of the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association told the meeting that the industry agreed.
"The pipeline industry stands behind the view that we will make it right. We always have. We always will."
The federal review panel hearings into the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline now move to Prince Rupert, where they'll explore issues around marine safety when they resume in December.