Making a pipeline more palatable

Northern Sentinel editor Cameron Orr posits a position that something like a highway may garner support for pipelines.

This isn’t my own idea, but it’s one I thought would be good to share in the spirit of discussion.

It has to do with what would make the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project something that people would support.

Now, assuming you didn’t light this paper on fire right as you read that, the idea is that if Enbridge were to ever build a pipeline, they should, concurrent to that, build an operational highway along its right-of-way.

Based on Northern Gateway’s current maps on their website, such a highway would connect Kitimat to Burns Lake.

There were a few reasons given for such a plan. It would open up new country for outdoor recreational enthusiasts, would significantly cut down commuting time and costs for people travelling that direction, who didn’t want to head north to Hazelton before making their way back south, and it could make the pipeline safer. On that it was argued that people using the road would be a great first-hand look, just in case anything may be spilling out of the pipe and rising to the surface.

Long time readers of the Sentinel may remember suggestions from the last editor about a Coastal Connector highway, which would have run from Houston to Kitimat.

It wasn’t a plan that gained much traction. I recall some thought it would be hard on the communities that it circumvents, depriving them of tourist dollars.

Then again, likely a lot of people heading to Prince Rupert from the direction of Prince George would keep on the existing Highway 16.

And a circle-route through the region taking the new hypothesized highway up to 16, and back, could be a new venue for tourism promotion.

This would all be hinged on the idea, though, that Enbridge would ever agree to build B.C. a highway, or that the province would want them to. In the end it would be a huge stretch of road that would have to be maintained.

There are certainly a lot of variables to work out in this scenario.

But the point made to me is that people may soften to Enbridge and the Northern Gateway if there was a tangible benefit from the construction. In this case, a highway would provide new travel opportunities and be a real, visible benefit from the project.

I don’t expect everyone to agree. I know it doesn’t change what product is being transported.

Yet maybe it’s worth wondering how hard the line against the project would be if something like this would be on the table with it.

Cameron Orr