Many missing from hearings

LOCAL governments and businesses won’t be talking at tomorrow’s federal regulatory approval hearings on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project.

  • Jan. 11, 2012 7:00 a.m.

LOCAL governments and business organizations won’t be saying anything at tomorrow’s federal regulatory approval hearings into Enbridge’s $5.5 billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline project.

Although city council has decided to stay neutral until the hearings are finished and it has registered to be an intervenor, it won’t be making a presentation, says mayor Dave Pernarowski.

“These hearings are going on for quite some time,” said Pernarowski. “Our intervenor status is intended to be a representation from the community, not jump in off the hop here by going in directly with comment.”

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce aren’t even registered as intervenors.

Intervenors are able to submit information, ask questions and provide a final position paper at various stage of the hearing.

“Through the year, as the [joint review panel] process kind of moves through, I’m sure we’ll have discussion in council to determine what our comment is going to be,” said Pernarowski. “We’ll be able to present at that point in time.”

He stressed fair representation of the community is key.

“We’re trying to remain open to hearing a lot of information regarding this project,” he said. “I’m very curious to hear what 4000- plus people are going to say.”

Pernarowski added those wanting to share opinions  are encouraged to do so. “There’s a contact submission form available on our website, we also have the city talk back line,” he said.

“I certainly would encourage people to continue using social media.

“You could even stop me at a grocery store as well,” he said.

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine has not registered for intervenor status, and won’t be presenting either.

Regional district chair Harry Nyce said that while the topic did come before the board last year, it decided not to participate because other municipalities were doing so already.

“The municipalities had already committed to doing their thing,” he said. “They’re the most impacted on the issue.

“And I think the board didn’t feel the [regional district] wanted any opinion on it.”

The Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce, which represents local business and industry, also won’t be an intervenor nor will it present evidence tomorrow.

Chamber executive director Carol Fielding said participating hadn’t yet been considered.

“We try not to be partisan,” she said. “We try to remove ourself from anything that has a yay, or nay or left or anything.”

Fielding added that after consulting the board, the chamber is considering polling its membership about what an appropriate course of action   might be, if at all.

The Kitsumkalum First Nation and the Kitselas First Nation are, however, on the list to speak tomorrow. They’ll be joined by the Metis Nation of BC.

“We don’t want to have our coast or rivers at risk,” said Kitsumkalum chief councillor Don Roberts. “(They’re) where we get our food and our economic value.”

The Terrace hearings begin at 1 p.m. at the Sportsplex tomorrow.

Hearings into the Gateway project began yesterday in Kitamaat Village and continue today. Hearings will also take place on the lower mainland and on the coast.

Terrace Standard