Council’s decision rejecting councillor Phil Germuth’s motion to carry out a survey of Kitimatians on the Northern Gateway project is a little puzzling, even confusing.
At the all-candidates meeting prior to November’s municipal elections, successful candidates Edwin Empinado, Rob Goffinet, Mary Murphy and Germuth said they would hold a referendum of the project.
And that’s a majority of the now sitting council.
Yet when Germuth offered up Referendum Lite – a non-binding survey – council killed the idea by a 5-2 margin.
(I should note that councillors Corinne Scott and Mario Feldhoff voted in line with the positions they took at the all-candidates, that a referendum should be held after the Joint Review Panel brought down its final report and recommendation).
That’s the puzzling part.
As for the confusing, back in May of last year the city registered with the National Energy Board as a government participant.
In doing so it had to answer several questions:
q “Do you intend to actively participate during the hearings?”,
q “Will someone be speaking on your behalf?”, and
q “Will you be submitting written evidence?”
In each case the city checked the ‘Don’t know’ box.
Now that may look a tad weak, but it was consistent with then council’s position to stay neutral until it had more information, a not unreasonable stand at the time.
But by agreeing to Feldhoff’s amendment, council has basically decided to opt out of the process entirely.
That’s because, as Goffinet kept hammering away at, when the JRP brings down its final report, its job is done and therefore it will no longer be hearing the points of view of anyone.
So what was the point of the city signing up at all?
I am not suggesting that any submission to the JRP by council would be a game changer, but it just seems logical that the community which will be the location for the terminal of this project would want to express a point of view, be it for or against.
That said, there is still lots of time for council to change its mind.