Kitimat councillors weigh in on protecting water supply and NIMBYism

A motion on leak detection for Northern Gateway kicked off a discussion about neutrality and the 'Not in My Backyard'-people.

A motion which sought to emphasize the District of Kitimat’s resolve in protecting the community’s water supply got de-clawed from the original councillor’s wording.

“This shows no guts,” said Phil Germuth, reacting to an amendment to his motion made by councillor Edwin Empinado.

Germuth’s motion was initially for the DoK to “require Enbridge to install a leak detection system that can locate small volumes…” where a leak would “impact the Kitimat watershed or the District of Kitimat water intakes.”

His motion kicked off a lively debate, which covered everything from the NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) to concerns centred on the word “require.”

“A spill into our watershed could devastate our community, especially if it enters our water distribution system,” said Germuth in introducing his motion.

He said getting the town’s concerns to the company would give them plenty of time ahead of firming up the final designs of their project.

Mario Feldhoff wasn’t sold on the motion.

“Council has a policy of neutrality towards the Enbridge project. From my perspective that policy supported allowing the independent JRP… to conclude their findings,” he said, adding he supports the numerous conditions which came with the report.

“Those conditions include elements related to leak detection. I do not want council to attempt to replicate the JRP process,” he said.

Feldhoff however also took the opportunity to speak out to those who continue to doubt the JRP process, saying he did not feel the process was pre-destined to approve the project.

“To my mind, opposition to the JRP Northern Gateway report, at this stage, is yet another case of NIMBY-ism: Not In My Backyard,” he said. “We should reflect on the fact that Kitimat would likely not be the community it is today if the NIMBYs of the Nechako watershed had their way.”

He said what he would support is having a discussion with Enbridge to talk about leak detection technologies.

Councillor Rob Goffinet meanwhile didn’t see the motion affecting neutrality.

“If we feel it’s prudent to quiz something about leak detection, that does not call into question the entire JRP or tips council’s hand to be for or against the project anymore than the JRP putting it into their 209 conditions are necessarily are coming out 100 per cent in favour of the project,” he said.

Corinne Scott also stood by Germuth’s motion.

“I think because the JRP is finished their report and recommended that it goes ahead that it behooves us to ensure that if it does get approval that we get any of our concerns in front of the federal government right away.”

With Empinado’s amendment, the new motion begins, “That the District of Kitimat meet with Enbridge to discuss installation of leak detection systems…”, removing the ‘require’ part of the motion.

Goffinet, Scott and Germuth voted against the amendment and later on the entire motion itself, but that left four in favour and it passed.

“It’s a motion consistent with the JRP process and it’s a motion I can support,” said Feldhoff of the final motion.