Oil refinery proponent David Black returned to Kitimat to speak publicly on his proposal, both to Kitimat Council and later to the public at large at the Riverlodge.
His message was largely the same as in previous talks, playing up that the Kitimat Clean refinery proposal would be the cleanest refinery in the world and would solve many of the problems associated with raw bitumen export, such as proposed with Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project.
Perhaps most notable from his visit however was the response from Kitimat Council, which voted to formally endorse his refinery by writing to Premier Christy Clark and Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging them to support the proposal.
Mario Feldhoff put forward that motion but did receive resistance from Rob Goffinet, who would rather have opted to more general wording that didn’t specifically back Black’s proposal.
“Why would we make a locked-in decision that we think that we are going for this project?” he asked, saying that as a political body they may in the future have to make judgements on that very project.
Goffinet is in support of Kitimat Clean but not in endorsing it as a council.
He attempted to create an amendment to the motion to generalize it away from Kitimat Clean but to a vote he was not successful in having it pass.
Phil Germuth said refining product in Canada is in the country’s best interest and was comfortable with the motion as is.
“Overall, on the concept of endorsing the government look at the proposal of a refinery, I would support it on that,” he said.
Corinne Scott also spoke in favour of the original motion.
“I hope the federal government will take the message by us writing to the Prime Minister, that we’re saying we’re against the Northern Gateway project. So I’m speaking in favour of the project.”
Scott also noted that this motion won’t preclude Kitimat Clean from going through all the required studies and assessments.
“If it all turns out that he can’t do [it] or whatever, that doesn’t stop us from saying ‘no, it’s become too dangerous.’ His proposal I can endorse quite easily.”
Mario Feldhoff also added that endorsing the project through this motion doesn’t forbid future endorsement of other worthwhile projects.
“If others come forward with equally good projects I’d be happy to endorse that as well.”
He also said during the debate, “Given what we know I believe it is our responsibility to advocate for this at this time.”
Goffinet was ultimately outnumbered 6-1 when it came to the vote. The full motion as written is “That the District of Kitimat write a letter to the Prime Minister, copying the Premier of B.C., endorsing Mr. Black’s Kitimat Clean refinery proposal and asking that it be supported and promoted by senior levels of government, thereby reducing environmental impacts and risks associated with the Northern Gateway, while significantly increasing economic value-added and associated taxation benefits to the Pacific Northwest, B.C. and Canada.”
Black is also the chairman of Black Press, which owns, among others, the Northern Sentinel.