Kitimat Chamber executive director joins Enbridge tour to Fort McMurray oil sands

A trip to oil sands near Fort McMurray has given Kitimat Chamber Executive Director Trish Parsons a new perspective on the projects.

A trip to the oil sands near Fort McMurray has given Kitimat Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Trish Parsons a new perspective on the projects.

Parsons was in a group of numerous others — including two other as yet unnamed Kitimatians — who were invited on the tour by Enbridge, the proponent behind the Northern Gateway Pipelines proposal.

The tour took place on August 14.

The company decided such a tour was in order after facing a number of questions about the origin of the crude oil it hopes to pump for customers through its planned Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to a marine terminal at Kitimat, says company official Ivan Giesbrecht.

We thought it would be a lot easier to show them rather than to simply tell them,” said Giesbrecht.

Also on the tour from the Terrace area was the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Carol Fielding, Terrace Economic Development Authority economic development officer Evan van Dyk and Alex Pietrella, the executive director of the Kitimat-Terrace Industrial Development Society.

Enbridge told the Sentinel they were waiting to hear from the two other Kitimat participants to know if they were comfortable having their name released to the media.

For Parsons, the tour helped provide the middle ground between the polarized imagery of the oil sands.

“Everything that I’ve ever seen about the oil sands was either on TV — somebody who’s totally opposed to it — or somebody like Suncor…promoting the oil sands,” she said.

What she said is that instead of huge smoke stacks and cut up geography, she found just regular out doors.

“I was expecting to see a lot more industrial, barren, wide open areas,” she said. “There was lots and lots of green space.”

She was also impressed with what she saw of reclaimed lands from oil sands projects.

She said she felt the tour was conducted unbiasedly, saying that participants were able to ask questions at any point of the tour.

As well, the variety of people weren’t just pipeline supporters. She said she knows through conversations that some of the people on the tour were actually entirely opposed to Enbridge’s pipeline plan for the northwest.

Parsons wasn’t just scoping out oil projects on her tour. She said she also got to see an active PTI Group lodge.

PTI Group is proposing to build a 2,100 bed workforce accommodation in the Strawberry Meadows subdivision.

The one near Fort McMurray, which Parsons said was attached to an industrial site, looked very plain from the outside (a different design than what’s proposed for Kitimat) but the inside was very nice and was very much like a hotel.

Fort McMurray is a good study on a growing town. Parsons said she’s aware of some talk from people who think Kitimat is on its way to being a Fort McMurray kind of town, and that Kitimat is already finding some issues with the growth, and not just the obvious ones.

For instance in Fort McMurray she said there were a lot of closed restaurants. But it wasn’t a lack of business which shut them out, but a lack of employees, she says.

It’s a similar situation which is growing in Kitimat.

“They’re having challenges recruiting and retaining staff for part time jobs,” she said. “If you’ve got after school hours, Tim Hortons has constantly got signs up, Dairy Queen…they’ve got signs up. Trigo’s they’ve got signs up. I think that’s going to be come the norm as more of these projects start to move forward. You cannot compete with construction jobs as far as salaries go.”

A company, she said, may have to look at offsetting a wage with a rental allowance as well, she said.

These sorts of concerns are why the Chamber worked with the Immigrant Employment Council and the Northwest Community College to host an immigrant workforce forum in Kitimat. (Sentinel, August 28)

Enbridge has hosted similar tours in the past. Selected people were sent to Michigan in May to see first hand the clean up efforts on the Kalamazoo River, the site of a major Enbridge spill in 2010.

Just Posted

Kitimat’s Water Quality Advisory, which has been in place for just over a week, has been lifted. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory in Kitimat lifted

The district has been under a Water Quality Advisory since June 2

On June 16 at 6 p.m., the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a public presentation and discussion with Happipad, a social enterprise, to talk about solutions for affordable housing Kitimat. (Happipad photo)
Affordable housing to be focus of Kitimat Chamber of Commerce meeting

Figures indicate the average Kitimat household needs to make more than $92,000 a year

(District of Kitimat logo)
Hirsch Creek Bridge restricted to single lane traffic

The district is restricting the bridge traffic to legal highway loads only

Artist’s illustration of the proposed Kitimat LNG facility at Bish Cove near Kitimat. (Kitimat LNG illustration)
Haisla Nation surprised by Woodside pull out from Kitimat LNG project

Haisla Nation council states its main focus is now on developing the Haisla-led Cedar LNG project

(Northern Health logo)
Pop-up vaccine clinic tomorrow at the Save-on-Foods parking lot in Kitimat

The clinic will be this Friday, June 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read