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REPORTING · 8th March 2014
Walter McFarlane
Under motions at the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, March 3rd, Councillor Phil Germuth made a motion not to conduct the Plebiscite for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

“All exercise of surveying the residents of Kitimat regarding their opinion of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project was born out of a motion just over two years ago. The original intent of that motion was for Mayor and Council, along with administration to compile a list of questions, put them in a survey form and include them with a tax notice, with a return envelope for our citizens. Once we got those back, we could have engaged the community in discussion, and if we saw fit, to take those concerns, submit them to the Joint Review Panel and become a part of the process. That opportunity no longer exists,” said Germuth.

He said while the intent of the mover is no longer paramount once a motion has been adopted by Council. The motion belonged to Council to change as they see fit. However, he felt the intent was so far askew that they could no longer do what they wanted to do, to find out how the people of Kitimat felt about Enbridge. They are not even asking about the project, they are asking about the implications of the 209 conditions.

“Because of the wording, because we took something that could be done in 8 words, and turned it into 44 words, no matter what happens, if we follow through with this plebiscite, the results will be criticized as not an accurate representation of our citizens,” said Germuth.

He expressed time and money would be better spent on other initiatives.

Councillor Mary Murphy said the question was to have a survey and it was amended and this was passed by the entirety of Council. She had a statement from Councillor Rob Goffinet who was not at the meeting. Goffinet told her he wanted to know why this was happening but was unable to get any information.

She also accused Council of excluding Goffinet because he had said he would vote against the motion, although Council had decided to put it off before he said how he was feeling.

Murphy expressed her concern. “I understand that everybody has their own views on it, and I know both side want to put their case forward and they want to be able to put a vote forward, for and against. And we can say it’s not important for them to do that, but it’s their right and they asked for it and we should be supplying that for them. Even if they don’t agree with the 209 conditions AND the national energy board decision to go forward for this project, they can vote no,” said Murphy.

She said the majority or the minority were not a big issue. Council represents the majority and the minority on their concerns and they do not know if the project is going to go forward.

Feldhoff told Council he was against the motion as well. He expressed there was nothing in the motion to Cancel the plebiscite. At the All Candidates Forum for this Council, they were asked by the citizens to poll and find out where the community stands. Council agreed. He said a lot of time was spent debating the questions.

“I’m quite interested to what extent our community is divided on the Northern Gateway Project. Hopefully, we will get a strong turn out at the Plebiscite,” said Feldhoff.

He wanted to communicate the results to the senior levels government.

Councillor Edwin Empinado said they have promised this to their constituents. He wanted to get the feel of the Community. He said he wants to find the percentage, the voice of the people to give them more bargaining power as they go through the process.

Councillor Corinne Scott agreed the money was being wasted and there were better ways to conduct a survey. “As much as we wanted to know what the feeling of the community is, all we know so far is that we’re split. What the percentage of split is, we don’t know,” said Scott.

She added if only 50% of the voters came out, they still would not have a clear indication.

Murphy said Council has discussed this for three years and changed the path by calling for a survey at any time. The $15,000 price tag was not a problem. “Majority or minority, we still have the responsibility to represent each and every single one of them when we move forward on anything that is coming in to our community, any development,” said Murphy.

Germuth said they were asked to poll the opinion on Enbridge Northern Gateway. “We’re not doing that on this. We’re asking about 209 conditions that nobody understands fully. Even Enbridge doesn’t fully understand them,” said Germuth.

He said administration put forward a simple question. Germuth told Council the Councillors voting against the motion say they want the feel of the community, but the community came out and told Council to change the question and the Council ignored it.

The motion to cancel the plebiscite was called and it failed. Germuth and Scott voted in favour.
THE REAL QUESTION IS.......
Comment by Larry Walker on 8th March 2014
I personally want each councilor and the mayor
to stand up at the next regular council meeting and in no uncertain terms and without making a long and drawn out speech (which only confuses the issue and the public)......AND DECLARE THEIR OWN PERSONAL POSITION ON THE ENBRIDGE PIPELINE PROJECT (a simple "against" or "in favor" would do).