The U.S. State Department released its long-awaited report on the Keystone XL project last week. Most media focused on the executive summary, but several scenarios in British Columbia are outlined in the full report, even though the province is thousands of kilometres removed from the proposed pipeline.
The Haisla First Nation live in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, on the west coast near the aluminum town of Kitimat. The town's massive smelter has long been a sore spot among the Haisla, dropped into their traditional territory in the pro-development 1950 without consultation or substantial compensation. Now, the Haisla find themselves on the front lines of one of the most important Canadian environmental and development debates of the 21st century, but they are no longer the powerless victims of a half century ago. If Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proceeds, it will terminate on Haisla territory.
There has been a lot of media attention lately surrounding the use of foreign trade workers in our province. What we need to keep in mind is that our province needs skilled foreign workers to mitigate a labour shortage that is putting our economic growth at risk, and we must not allow gut reactions to specific cases dictate public opinion or guide public policy decisions with far-reaching, future implications.
TransCanada plans a rugged over-mountain route for its proposed Coastal Gaslink pipeline to the Shell Canada liquified natural gas project in Kitimat, B.C., company officials said this week in two presentations. The pipeline would initially carry 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Montney Formation region of northeastern B.C. over 700 kilometres from Groundbirch, near Dawson Creek, to Kitimat.
The Geological Survey of Canada has identified a tsunami hazard and a possible seismic fault in Douglas Channel near Kitimat. That's the proposed site of the Enbridge Northern Gateway project and at least three liquified natural gas projects. If the projects go ahead, hundreds of supertankers with either bitumen or LNG will be sailing in the channel for years to come.
Can I call you Ian? I hope so. Let's consider it a first step towards building that trust and confidence you seek with British Columbians. I read your recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun and I had some follow-up questions and comments.
There's one question about the Enbridge Northern Gateway project that many people ask and few can answer: Who is responsible for the port of Kitimat? Who would be liable should there be a disaster in the port? Nobody really knows. Most of the other harbours in Canada are the responsibility of Ports Canada, a branch of Transport Canada or run by (usually not-for-profit) semi-public port corporations or local harbour commissions. Yet Kitimat has one of the few private ports in Canada. To find out why, watch the multiple Oscar-winning movie On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando, about how the mob ran the New York docks.
Even with David Black's proposal for an oil refinery on a hill 25 kilometres north of Kitimat, residents here know that the Enbridge Northern Gateway debate has gone on for years and will go on for many years to come. The hottest issue in Kitimat this summer is water, not oil. For us, this summer can be summed up by saying: "Water, water everywhere, but you can't get there from here." As environmentalists worldwide celebrate the beauty of Douglas Channel, and decry the dangers that tanker traffic could pose to the channel, many people in Kitimat are cut off from the waterfront.