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REPORTING · 19th December 2014
Walter McFarlane
Council had a motion to send a letter of support for LNG Canada to the Environmental Assessment Office on Monday, December 15th. They were given a report on what the project was about along with a draft letter written by Mayor Phil Germuth attached to the back. Germuth was unable to attend the Council Meeting due to illness and Acting Mayor Mario Feldhoff was chairing the meeting.

“The Environmental Assessment Office is receiving letters of comment prior to December 22nd and we may make comments as individuals but as a Council, we have not formally commented on the EAO deadline of submission,” said Feldhoff.

The letter explains the Mayor wishes to extend formal support for the project on behalf of Council.

“Kitimat has always been a community that is supportive of industry. In our opinion, the LNG Canada Project will provide significant, long term benefits for not only Kitimat but our neighbouring communities as well. We await the approvals necessary for the proponent to make a final investment decision,” wrote Germuth.

He wrote that a top priority for Kitimat was establishing new industries following the closure of Eurocan and LNG Canada has done an excellent job in engaging the community and keeping Council up to date.

“We believe that the project has a strong public support and should proceed,” concluded the letter.

Councillor Larry Walker stated he could not see any benefit to this as is. He suggested it should state that they will support it on the successful completion of the environmental review. Staff was not certain how to respond, but Canada LNG was looking for general support.

“I understand what Councillor Walker is saying, maybe we’re putting a letter out prior to the environmental assessment being done, but in reading this, I am under the impression that LNG Canada is asking for support for the proposed project,” said Poole.

Councillor Mary Murphy expressed that Mayor Germuth had already sent a letter in support of the project. She was told this letter was the attached draft.

Feldhoff expressed he felt the wording in the letter as drafted was not as strong as he would like. Empinado on the other hand agreed with the wording in the letter.

Goffinet expressed there is an extremely involved environmental process with thousands of pages of documents. The Letter should not be about how they like the project, but a specific comment to the documentation.

“To put, at this moment, a blanket support, with no reference to the thousands of pages of technical documentation that they are asking our considered opinion on, is to me something that we in principal are not being asked to do and it would be imprudent to do so,” said Goffinet.

He agreed with Walker. “I want to vote for this project, but this letter, which makes no reference to the Environmental Assessment. They want a reasonable response to the thousands of pages of documentation,” said Goffinet.

Council was told by Administration that the District of Kitimat has provided comment to the Environmental Assessment Office. The department heads had contributed appurtenant technical comments regarding the application. In addition, Fire Chief Trent Bossence sits on the working group.

Council was told the letter would be separate from the comments and comments can be made to the Environmental Assessment Office online prior to the 22nd.

An amendment that Council would be in favour of the project following the successful completion of the Environmental Assessment Process was called for. However, it was called and it failed.

The motion was called and carried with Councillors Rob Goffinet and Larry Walker Opposed.