Kitimat Votes NO! to the Northern Gateway Pipeline

By Roy L Hales

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 3.43.47 PMAs only British Columbian town held a plebiscite, there is a sense in which they spoke for all of us.  I hope the message goes straight to the Premier’s office. Kitimat Votes NO! to the Northern Gateway Pipeline

The question, as phrased on the ballot:

Do you support the final report recommendations of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and National Energy Board, that the Enbridge Northern Gateway project be approved, subject to 209 conditions set out in Volume 2 of the JRP’s final report?

Just under 60% of the town’s population voted. The final tally:
Yes votes  – 1,278 (41.6%)
No votes   – 1,793 (58.4%)

A group of local residents called the Douglas Channel Watch, who have opposed Enbridge’s “Yes” campaign,  joined members of the Haisla First Nation in a victory celebration at Centennial Park once the result was known.

“The people have spoken. That’s what we wanted – it’s a democratic process,” said Mayor Joanne Monaghan. “We’ll be talking about this Monday night at Council, and then we’ll go from there with whatever Council decides.”

The Douglas Channel Watch issued the following press release:

Kitimat residents have voted against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway dual pipeline, storage facility, and supertanker port proposal.

This result demonstrates that the citizens of British Columbia cannot be bought, that we will not trade the long term health of our salmon rivers or our pristine north coast for a handful of jobs, and that we are determined to keepnorth coast BC bitumen free.

It can be argued that no other industrial proposal in BC’s history has galvanized a larger, or more diverse assembly of opposition from First Nations, concerned citizens, religious groups, Unions, Municipalities, and more.

Canada’s resources should be managed in such a way as to benefit futuregenerations, not as short term profit enterprises for multi-national corporations.

Together, we have a voice loud enough to be heard in Ottawa.”

The local MP, Nathan Cullen,  said “Despite all the money that Enbridge poured into this, despite worries about the rules themselves, people spoke strongly, rejected Enbridge and rejected this approach to making decisions. We need to do things better in BC.”

Cullen had some bitter words to say about Prime Minister Harper’s support for this project and predicted it will become an election issue in 2015, they persist, and could end the Conservative government.

Donny van Dyk, Northern Gateway’s  Manager of Coastal Aboriginal and Community Relations issued a statement saying , “As a long time-resident of northwestern B.C., I passionately believe that Northern Gateway is the right choice for Kitimat and for the future of our community.”

If the 1,170 kilometer Northern Gateway pipeline is built, Kitimat will become the Western terminal.  The town would be transformed into an oil terminal. Around 525,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen would enter the town every day. As many as 225 supertankers would transport it out the Douglas Channel every year.

On January 16, 2012, the Town Council decided to let the residents voice their opinion in a non-binding plebiscite.

Enbridge decided it was a vote they did not want to lose. The oil giant brought in some of its employees to knock on doors, make phone calls and take out ads in the local media.

The Douglas Channel Watch waged an equally determined “No” campaign.

“We are devoting a huge amount of time to this and our sense, from knocking on doors, is that the “no” vote has a serious shot at wining,” Murray Minchin said two weeks ago.

He was right.

(Photo at the top of the page: Some Members of the Douglas Channel Watch)

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