With the deadline for submissions to the Enbridge Pipeline Joint Review Panel quickly approaching at the end of next month, council has been talking about what strategy they will take with their input to the panel.
Joy Thorkelson says that the City doesn’t need to debate the safety or risks of pipeline or oil tanker designs, but rather tell the panel that the community depends on clean water for its economic survival.
“We don’t need to get into if a single hull or a double hull or a triple hull is sufficient…If we don’t explain the value of that water and a clean marine environment is to our economy, than all of it is going to be weighed on what the pipeline is worth to the rest of Canada,” says Thorkelson.
Thorkelson believes that much of the city’s future rests upon having clean oceans, and that to risk the quality of the water on the North Coast is not worth it. She points out, for instance, that much of Prince Rupert’s tourist industry depends on fishing, charter trips and natural beauty. She says council only needs to point the review panel to Prince Rupert’s tourism plan to illustrate how important the environment is to tourism here.
“I’m concerned that our economic needs be forgotten in this process…I don’t think anyone making a written submission needs to do more than look at our tourism plan, which says our primary tourism product is outdoor water-based adventures, primarily salt water fishing and wildlife viewing in a pristine natural environment,” she told her fellow councillors.
“We could use that and we could use our Official Community Plan, which mentions a clean environment at least four times….We also have the value of the commercial fishery, aquaculture and value and ceremonial value of fish and food fish to the community and First Nations,” added Thorkelson.
Thorkelson says she’s been working on the submission to the Enbridge panel for her employer, the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, and says that industry is also important to the community but also depends on clean water to survive.
The council needs to make a concise case or it risks being drowned out by the interests of other communities who have opted to be interveners in the panel process like Prince Rupert, said Thorkelson.
“I am concerned. The City of Prince George, Terrace, Chetwynd, Fort St. James, Kitimat, the Regional Districts of Bulkley Nechako, Regional District of Wood Buffalo, the towns of Gibbons, Burns Lake, Mayerthorpe, Whitecourt, Queen Charlotte and Masset are all intervenors plus federal and provincial governments and government departments are going to be intervenors as are the Nisga’a Band Council and other First Nations bands,” says Thorkelson.