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REPORTING · 15th April 2014
Walter McFarlane

The results of the Plebiscite on Enbridge were handed out to Council at a special meeting on Monday, April 14th. The gallery was packed and for the first time, Council was going to discuss where they stand on the project…

You can watch a video of this discussion by clicking on this paragraph.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to mail the results in letter format to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his Cabinet and the Premier Christy Clark. The letter would ask the Cabinet to take the results seriously when looking at the recommendation of the Joint Review Panel.

“The people of Kitimat have spoken. There is not unanimity in the community; we still have some serious divisions in our community. It was a 3-2 vote. The Federal Cabinet needs to be aware of the vote. They have 180 days from the Joint Review Panels final report. […] The Federal Cabinet towards June has to make a decision regarding the recommendation to the JRP,” said Feldhoff.

He stated the letter should include the question asked, the voter eligibility and the turn out. Councillor Rob Goffinet clarified they were forwarding the results to the Prime Minister. There could be subsequent motions at a later date.

Feldhoff said it was important to send the results to the cabinet before they make their final decision. The motion was called and carried.

Each of the Councillors took a turn to talk about the plebiscite.

Councillor Phil Germuth: Risk Vs. Reward

“My views on the Plebiscite might not be shared by everybody,” said Germuth. “The recent Plebiscite to me, supported and solidified the position that the Haisla have taken, the City of Terrace, the City of Prince Rupert, the City of Smithers, and many others, that this project does not have social license to Proceed. The people of Kitimat are not against industry, they are not against progress, they are not against industrial development. We know this town was built on industry. With any industrial project, there come risks, there comes risk vs. benefit. There is a balance between industry vs nature that we so dearly have here. The Enbridge Project is unlike any other.”

He said Kitimat supports the Rio Tinto Alcan Modernization, supported Eurocan, Methanex, the LNGs and if a Plebiscite was held on any of those topics, the support would be in the 90% range. He believes the people have told Council the risk of the Enbridge project is too high which is what the people had told the Council.

Germuth concluded with a statement that he felt the Plebiscite has told the Council that their neutrality is not needed anymore.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff: Just Who Voted

Councillor Mario Feldhoff said he made his comments in the past. However, he wanted to know about the temporary residents and whether they were allowed to vote.

Deputy CAO Warren Waycheshen explained: “As per Council’s direction, it was for residents of the community. With the sheet that we handed out tonight, it does show a new registration of 761 which on the surface look might like a whole bunch of new people coming right into the community. […] We had a lot of people coming in who were 18, 19 or 20 years old, lived here their whole life but they weren’t able to vote in the 2011 election. […] We had people who weren’t Canadian citizens vote which you cannot in the municipal elections. […] A few people said they didn’t want to vote for Mayor and Council but they wanted to vote in this one.”

He expressed there is also turn over between elections. People who have left the community but are still on the voter’s list have not been taken into account. This means the turnout is somewhere between 62% and 74%. They will not know until the names come off the voters list in the 2014 election.

There were also people from the camps and people who were visiting from other communities who came in and asked if they were eligible to vote. However, the vote was just for the people of Kitimat.

Feldhoff asked if it was dangerous to compare to the voters list because there were people who are long term residents but cannot vote because they are not Canadian Citizens.

Councillor Corinne Scott: Against Raw Exports

Scott said the District was not disrespecting the Haisla Community or their opinion by not allowing them to vote in the Plebiscite. She reminded the people of Kitimat we would not go to the Kitamaat Village to vote if their community was having one because Kitimat and Kitamaat are two different municipalities.

“I was very, very proud of how Murray Minchin and the Douglas Channel Watch conducted themselves throughout the entire process over the last number of years. They have provided excellent information to the Council when they made presentations to the Council with regards to the JRP hearings and that sort of thing. They have conducted themselves without name calling and I am speaking specifically of Murray and some of the core group of Douglas Channel Watch. They were very respectful and conducted themselves with integrity,” said Scott.

She said she is in favour of pipelines over having bitumen shipped by rail. However, she is seriously against shipping raw materials out of Canada, which is what Northern Gateway is all about. She felt the Federal Government should have legislation in place which makes Canada open for business but resources should be value added before they leave the country.

Councillor Mary Murphy: Proud to Have Voted Yes

Murphy explained her history was in Pulp and Paper and Eurocan shut down. There were a lot of citizens in town who did not want to see the pulp and paper mill running. It shut down and Kitimat is exporting a tonne of logs on a daily basis. People moved on to 24 hour a day, 8 day week jobs with one week off to be with their families.

“When I started this whole process, the risks outweighed the benefits, it really outweighed the benefits. We had many presentations in front of us, both by Douglas Channel Watch and by Enbridge. Every single time we wanted clarification, they were here and they gave us clarification. We may have agreed with it and we may have disagreed with it. Every time we asked, there was clarification given to us,” said Murphy.

She stated she attended every Douglas Channel Watch presentation she could. Sometimes they were good, sometimes they were not and sometimes, she was excited to see her name in lights.

“As things turned around and evolved and I started to look at the project and what it meant for Canada, BC and Kitimat, I’m against exporting raw product but I felt that the benefit was certainly there for Canada so I voted yes,” said Murphy.

She said she, as union president, championed people who were a majority and this is what she intended to do.

Councillor Rob Goffinet: Proud of Kitimat for not Thinking of Themselves

Goffinet respected Murphy for saying how she voted on the issue because each Councillor comes to their decision from various ways and they must respect the point of view because Kitimat must live on as a community.

“This is a community that embraces heavy industry, but that doesn’t mean that we should accept every heavy industry because we have in the past. We must look at this passionately and without fear how we believe the industry benefits or impacts us and in the case of this proposal, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, when we made our decision in Kitimat on how to go, I believe, and I’m very impressed with the community because the result of the vote must show one thing, they looked at the benefits that could prove for taxation, for jobs, that it would prove to us, but they looked all the way to the Rocky Mountains with a raw bitumen pipeline and they looked at thousands of other people who would have been impacted by the pipeline crossing their territory, their districts, their municipal land, their rivers and they must have thought beyond themselves,” said Goffinet.

He said the pipeline would transport raw, unprocessed bitumen. The jobs which would come would not be very good but they would be jobs. Witnesses came before the JRP saying the export of Bitumen would be the export of 10-20,000 jobs in Canada.

Goffinet expressed the people of Kitimat thought beyond the jobs we would get, the jobs which would be lost in Alberta. The Alberta Federation of Labour said this pipeline would export 10,000 to 20,000 jobs. He reminded council that supertankers would impact thousands of people up and down the coast, fishermen and fisherwomen. He was proud of Kitimat for thinking of other people. Many communities and First Nations across the Northwest have taken a stance against the pipeline.

“As the people most able to benefit with taxation and some jobs, we said, it’s bigger than us. We think the same way as every constituency in this Province and in fact, in the country. This is a proposal that is a problem. We argue, we feel fear about it. I too love some pipelines,” said Goffinet.

He reflected on a conversation he had with the president of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, Al Monaco. Goffinet told him people would accept the Enbridge Pipeline if it was an LNG pipeline rather than a Bitumen Pipeline. Goffinet stated he respects both the people who voted yes and the people who voted no. He voted no.

“We are just like everybody else, we feel fear, we feel loss and we see liability in the Enbridge Project which is the export project of 100% unprocessed bitumen out of Canada. I don’t think that serves Kitimat, it doesn’t serve BC and it does not serve Alberta that we are countenancing doing that. I voted no and I’m glad our community said the same thing,” said Goffinet.

Councillor Edwin Empinado: Waking up Smiling

“Nobody would like risk but everyone would like benefits. This is the thinking before I go to work every day. I avoid risk in the things I do every day and the benefit I always like is that you wake up and open your eyes and you’re smiling, thanks be to god, he or she is alive. Nobody likes risk, everybody likes benefits,” said Empinado.

He wanted to know how much control he had as a Council Member. Continues communication, asking, bargaining and continual quality assurance and research. He looked at the technologies and pushed the proponents at the Council table so there is no risk.

He wanted to make sure there was a safe environment, much the same way he thinks about his patient waking up as he drives home.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan: Last But Not Least

Monaghan said everyone had said everything. She thanked Douglas Channel Watch for giving Council a lot of information and made sure the Council was informed. She also thanked Enbridge for keeping Council informed.

“I don’t have anything against pipelines, I’m with my fellow Councillor on that. I do not appreciate things which are shipped out of our community which are not value added. I want the jobs here for our citizens, so they could have good jobs and work here. I don’t like logs being sent out either, it makes me furious every time I go to Terrace, I see these loads of logs, nor would I like bitumen sent out. I want it refined here,” said Monaghan.

She said it was sad that the process divided the town, but she was happy with Plebiscite and that everyone had their say.

“I’m looking forward to getting on with our business, now that we know what you all want, we have made one motion already, I’m sure there’ll be other motions coming and we can make your decision and our decision known to the rest of the world,” said Monaghan.

It was not over yet

Councillor Phil Germuth gave notice of motion: “That Mayor and Council support the results of the April 12th Plebiscite, the Haisla and our neighbouring communities by adopting a position of being opposed to the Northern Gateway Enbridge Project,” said Germuth.

This will be on the agenda next week.
Hoist by its own petard
Comment by Linda Mc on 22nd April 2014
The debate is over and it is very clear, Enbridge has been its own worst enemy regarding the pipeline. Nothing predicts future behavior better than continually bad past behavior. I think I have to agree with Gerry Hummel, it was more the way Enbridge treated the people near the Kalamazoo River, their over 800 spills and some of their other shady practices like burying oil and paying fines instead of cleaning up, that worked against them. It was not a pipeline per say that bothered me although I did have major concerns , it's who was building it. They have proved over and over they cant be trusted, and I cant get past that.
our council
Comment by harley bell on 16th April 2014
first off I think that that our council and mayor need to be reminded that they work for us ! and also should not of been able to vote on this or have say on it ! its a conflict of interest on there part . as its comes down to a vote on what they want .not want we the people of kitimat/kitimaat. if we say yes or no its what we want ! as for the haisla not being able to vote I feel its wrong they live here to just as much as we do they depend on this town just as much as we do !
The people have said "NO"
Comment by Gerry Hummel on 15th April 2014
For at least the last 5 years or more the pipeline has been a hot topic in and around our community! Mr. Van Dyk himself said Enbridge has had 35 open houses in the community, Enbridge has offered hundreds of thousands in community funding as incentives, the district has had a number of town hall meetings! Douglas Channel Watch has had countless educational presentations and even rallies for the community and the people finally voted! Not saying all were in favour, but 761 new registrants voted on the plebiscite! Enbridge devoted a small fortune on a campaign for the YES vote! Everything possible paved the way for a YES vote victory and it did not happen! What part of "NO" does Enbridge not understand! Pretty strange that their idea now is that they have to try harder ..... Their dismal safety record and harsh treatment of people in Kalamazoo made it impossible for them to buy Social Licence in Kitimat! Give it up Enbridge you've beaten the pony to death!
The next move
Comment by Vern on 15th April 2014
Now with the vote done I do not think council needs to draw up a letter to the feds, that is what we have an MP for, he is aware of the vote let him represent us and lets get on with other issues. My problem with the pipeline was the shipping of raw oil, if the oil was refined in Alberta and a refined product was piped and shipped I would have supported the pipeline . Seems I heard of a new idea to do just that with a line running to Rupert.
The "Aftermath"
Comment by Cliff Madsen on 15th April 2014
Nice to see the process has now begun. The task of Council is to take the results of the plebicite and promote them at all levels and on all stages. I think its absurd to simply send a letter communicating the results to government. Are you telling me that our Council isn`t prepared to attach, at the minimum, a comprehensive breakdown of our concerns as a community along with the letter? This debate has gone on for a long time and there are volumes of information, data and opinions which Council asked the community to wait for before taking a position. Now that the review process is done and the people have spoken its time for our Council to actively promote the community`s position such that all levels of government, industry and the public are convinced that this project isn`t in the best interests of Kitimat or Canada on balance.