As the Joint Review Panel approaches the conclusion of hearings relating to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project, Kitimat may be left in the dust in favour of other communities for the questioning phase and the final hearings.
The JRP announced their plans for a procedural conference to take place on May 30 in Calgary. The conference will seek input on procedural issues relating to the final hearings, explained the Procedural Direction 7 document which was distributed late last week.
Within the document, it said that the questioning phase is expected to be held in Prince Rupert, Prince George, and in either Calgary or Edmonton, Alberta.
“These locations are centrally located, have adequate facilities and reasonable transportation access,” the document said. It further asks “would fewer than three locations be appropriate?”
Witness questioning will be done at each location based on the local issues.
In Prince Rupert, they outline the issues as impacts on Aboriginal interests, environmental effects, socioeconomic effects, consultation (public and Aboriginal groups), and safety and accident prevention.
Prince George’s issues are listed as potential impacts on the project on landowners and land use, routing and location of facilities and siting of a marine terminal, design and construction, follow-up and monitoring, and safety and accident prevention.
In Edmonton or Calgary, they’ll speak to the need for the project, impacts on commercial interests and financial and tolling matters.
When the final argument phase arrives, it is anticipated to be held in Prince Rupert and either Edmonton or Calgary.
Annie Roy, communications manager with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, provided a response to the question of why Kitimat is not a chosen location. She reiterated what the document said, relating to transportation and facilities, and added “The Panel will consider the results of the procedural conference as well as its own requirements in finalizing and announcing the process and schedule for the final hearings.
Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan was quick to express her disappointment at Kitimat’s exclusion.
“I have told them [the JRP] that I wasn’t very happy with that,” she said.
She counters the claims that facilities and transportation is not adequate in Kitimat.
“I told them that we did have adequate accommodation and it was easier to get to, by plane, from Vancouver,” she said.
She said not having the hearings in Kitimat is a ‘slap in the face’ to the community.
“It’s just like we don’t exist sometimes.”
Kitimat Council will participate in the conference through teleconference on May 30.