Douglas Channel Watch is still standing guard and reminding the world their position on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project remains unflappable.
Members assembled in Centennial Park on April 12 with signs familiar to anyone who lived through the 2014 plebiscite, including the common “United Against Enbridge” blue signs.
One year on the group sees a diminished Northern Gateway.
“Enbridge has sort of disappeared on the landscape. They’ve disappeared from media, from newspapers as compared to last year,” said Murray Minchin. He said the group’s heard of possible door-knocking campaigns and suspicious phone surveys in other communities.
“I think they’re out there trying to come up with a softer and cuddlier version of their Northern Gateway proposal.” They just don’t get the fact that bitumen coming through this valley and down this channel is a no-go.”
What’s next for the group though? Preparing the next step has not usually been in their playbook.
“We never had a strategy,” said Minchin. “We’re run and gun and react. Like in a hockey context we’re the reflex goalie, the one that just reacts to whatever’s going on. We have long-term ideas…but there’s no real strategy involved, but that keeps up nimble and unpredictable.”
He said the group had been invited by Enbridge to participate in Joint Review Panel mandated studies in to how bitumen reacts in water but they declined the offer.
“In the first half hour it will be spun that Enbridge will claim ‘committed environmentalists join Enbridge and the Enbridge team in making this a safer project…’ It’s just crazy because we know what happens to diluted bitumen when it separates and becomes bitumen in the water.”
Meanwhile Northern Gateway itself continues onwards, according to company spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht.
“I would say that our current priority is to build trust, engage in respectful dialogues and to develop meaningful partnerships with First Nations and Metis communities. We believe First Nations and Metis communities should share in the ownership and benefits of Northern Gateway and we want to ensure this happens,” said Giesbrecht in an e-mail to the Sentinel.
“At the same time, Northern Gateway continues to work to meet the conditions set by the Joint Review Panel and the B.C. government. One example of that is a research program we are undertaking with the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to examine the behavior, cleanup, and recovery of heavy oils spilled in freshwater and marine aquatic environments.”
He continues. “The project proponents remain committed to Northern Gateway and building this critical Canadian infrastructure. As we continue to move forward, we have made internal organizational changes to reflect the active participation of the project proponents and our focus on First Nations and Metis partnerships.”
Recently the company has cut down on the hours for their City Centre Mall office space.