After debating the issue for two meetings, the Skeen-Queen Charlotte Regional District (SQCRD) has decided to formally oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
A great deal of concern was given to the exact wording of the motion passed by the board, as many board members were concerned about finding a position that could say no to supertankers without affecting other kinds of marine business. And what they finally settled on was this:
“Therefore, be it resolved that the SQCRD be opposed to any expansion of bulk crude oil tanker traffic as well as bitumen export in Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound in British Columbia.”
In the preamble to the resolution the regional district says it believes that the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline will “result in increased crude oil tanker traffic and risk of accidental oil spills in northern coastal waters in British Columbia.
This is a big departure from what the City of Prince Rupert has said about its position the pipeline. In the city’s submission the Joint Review Panel council council emphasizes the how much the local economy depends on a clean environment, but doesn’t actually states any opposition the pipeline or the tankers.
The SQCRD’s resolution by contrast puts it in very small group of local governments who are now coming out to formally oppose the project. Just two local governments, in fact: the SQCRD and Terrace City council which decided to do the same thing four days earlier.
“This is another powerful statement that elected local governments in Northern British Columbia are opposed to the Enbridge Gateway oil tanker and pipeline project,” said city councillor, Jennifer Rice.
“Any effort to ram this project through will be a direct attack on our First Nations, the fishing industry and other coastal economies. We encourage development, but the risks are too great with this particular proposal.”
The vote to oppose the pipeline was not unanimous at the regional district board however, Oona River representative Karl Bergman was the lone dissenter on the vote. During the board’s debating on the issue, Bergman has argued that the north needs to stop reacting negatively whenever a new development comes in.
“Are we ever going to say yes in the north to anything? Everything that has ever come to this place the first thing we do is jump up and say no,” said Bergman in January.
“We all are dependent on oil. This reminds me of the little town that doesn’t want Walmart so it goes to the next town down the road. Guess what? That little town still dies. So if you keep pushing people out of here, you’ll get your wish: there will be no tankers and no people either.”