Council has decided it will wait for the Joint Review Panel to bring down its recommendation on the Northern Gateway Project before asking what Kitimatians think about it.
Councillor Phil Germuth had proposed that the city survey residents now on how they felt about the project, but colleague Mario Feldhoff immediately put forward an amendment so that it would read “that, upon completion of the JRP (Joint Review Panel) process, that the District of Kitimat put a survey out to residents of Kitimat asking them for their opinion on the Enbridge project.”
Noting the topic had come up a lot at last November’s all-candidates forum, Feldhoff said his commitment at that time was it would be in the best interests of the community to elicit input once people had had an opportunity “to reflect upon all the evidence.”
Rob Goffinet asked if the intent of the amendment was to canvas opinion at the end of the public part of the JRP process, as in when the panel had heard the 4,000+ submissions from members of the public.
Feldhoff repeated his intent was it should be done after the JRP’s recommendation.
Germuth said he didn’t see the point of waiting that long since most people had already made up their minds. “I believe council should have at least a basic awareness of where the community stands,” he added.
Goffinet returned to his concerns about timing. While acknowledging that if the survey was done to early residents would not have “maximum ability to hear both sides”, he pointed out if the survey was done too late the panel’s decision will already have been made.
Then, he said, “It will be academic what the people of Kitimat decide.”
Germuth pointed out that his motion was not an attempt to handcuff council, “it’s just to find out where the community stands on this issue.”
Feldhoff stuck to his position that waiting for the JRP recommendation would be “the perfect time. Otherwise our emotion is getting ahead of us. I would rather have informed comment from the citizenry after they had read (the recommendation).”
Likewise Goffinet gave no ground, repeating that people would be able to make “a reasonable response” after completion of the public part of the process.
Saying he wanted the community’s position to be expressed before the panel had wrapped up its work, Goffinet asked, “If it doesn’t, why would we ask the opinion of the people of Kitimat and not have that opinion have some force?”
Germuth concluded by saying he didn’t understand why council had to wait another 18 months – that’s how long the panel thinks it will be before it brings down its recommendation – to find out Kitimatians felt.
Feldhoff’s amendment passed 5-2 with only Germuth and Goffinet opposed.
SIMTHERS: Councillor Phil Brienesse, Green Party candidate for Skeena in the 2006 federal election, tabled a motion calling on his colleagues to oppose the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project.
Last November council had voted not to take a position on the project, but rather wait for the federal Joint Review Panel to render its decision on the matter.
After much discussion and debate council once again voted to wait for the JRP decision by a 4-3 margin.
TERRACE: Newly elected councillors may change the city’s official stance on Northern Gateway from neutral to opposed.
A notice of motion filed by rookie councillor James Cordeiro will put the topic back on the table when council meets on Monday, February 13.
The neutral position was reached in a 4-3 vote last April but two councillors who voted to remain neutral – Carol Leclerc and Brad Pollard – are no longer on council and a head count now puts the majority into the ‘no pipeline’ camp.
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THE KITSELAS first nation won’t be deciding to oppose or support Enbridge’s planned Northern Gateway pipeline project until it finishes analyzing the $5.5 billion plan.
“The Kitselas [stewardship] policy requires us to do an independent analysis of the impacts and benefits associated with any new or revised use of lands and resources in our territory” explained Kitselas chief councillor Judy Gerow.
“We are in the middle of that analysis and expect it to be completed by the end of 2012.
Once complete, elected council and the community will consider the conclusions and recommendations and make a final decision on the proposed project.”
THE NISGA’A of the Nass Valley have added their voice to those opposed to Northern Gateway.
Nisga’a Lisims Government president Mitchell Stevens said the Nisga’a are acting in solidarity with other aboriginal people who oppose the $5.5 billion project.
“First Nations have vital stewardship responsibilities in protecting their lands and resources from destruction at the hands of the petroleum industry,” he said.
Although the pipeline does not go through Nisga’a land, “the Nisga’a Nation is greatly concerned about the threat that an oil tanker mishap would pose to the fish and other marine resources to which Nisga’a citizens are entitled under the treaty and on which Nisga’a citizens depend for food and resources.”