Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mayor Mussallem rejects role for Prince Rupert in re-routed Northern Gateway project

The theme of the Northern Gateway pipeline and any potential shipment of Alberta oil through Northern British Columbia, found a bit of space at the UBCM sessions on Wednesday, with a number of representatives from the Northwest making comment on the controversial issue.

Yesterday we outlined how Jim Prentice, the new Premier of Alberta had suggested that Northern Gateway officials might need to revise their map drawing skills, reviewing how the Province of Alberta believed that the pipeline to transport bitumen may have to find a new destination.

Through a number of interviews with media in Alberta Mr. Prentice offered up a few ideas as to where a shipment terminal might be directed, with Prince Rupert and Lax Kw'alaams among two of the options listed by the Premier.

The Prince Rupert option apparently doesn't sit well with Mayor Jack Mussallem who was reached for comment by the Globe and Mail on Wednesday at the Whistler conference, providing the national
publication with what appears to be a definitive no thank you.

Basing a good portion of his pronouncement on a review of what he described as the thriving local fishing industry that employs hundreds of people and is critically important to the local First Nations.

For good measure, the Mayor went further relaying how that it was his belief that that the community would not be willing to put the fishing industry at risk for any oil terminal proposal.

Adding some additional thoughts that overwhelmingly people in the community are much more comfortable with liquefied natural gas, with wood pellets, with coal, than any oil product.

The Mayor offered up no particular research on the topic for the Globe, other than we imagine what was his gut feeling as to how he believes the community might think. Or perhaps he called on some remembrances of past discussions around the Council chamber, where some councillors have expressed concerns over land development and

They Mayor's emphatic declaration for the Globe, calls to mind the commentary of Councillor Anna Ashley back in June of this year.

At that time during a Council session, she advised Council that she was making plans to introduce a motion to ban the development of any oil refinery or oil shipment terminal projects for land within the City borders, a motion that never quite made it past the thinking out loud stage it seems.

And while Council members are free to express their opinions on topics such as this kind of development for the region. Perhaps before the Mayor, or anyone from Council makes that final call, they may wish to consult the residents back home, just to be sure that the presumptive support for their positions that they suggest is indeed as overwhelming as they believe.

For it's part the Prince Rupert Port Authority also seemed to deflect any prospects of an oil terminal project locating on any port related lands,  with the port describing their current land situation as "fully subscribed".  Adding some background regarding two vacant lots currently which are in the port authority's jurisdiction, with both designated towards other energy companies related to LNG projects.

That's a convenient talking point for the moment, taking the pressure off the Port as it does in regard to a controversial issue on the North Coast.

However, the consensus by many observers of the LNG file, is that when all is said and done in this great LNG rush of 2014, that of the eight proposals currently under consideration for the Prince Rupert region, there may only be one, two, or possibly three of the LNG developments that actually move forward.

Which, when all the current speculation on LNG settles down,  may we imagine free up some of that land already spoken for to be directed to other options.

The Globe's review of the current land use situation on the North Coast goes on to note that earlier this year Enbridge purchased a parcel of land for 20 million dollars at Grassy Point, designated for future business opportunities.

That land acquisition from March, continues to stoke much in the way of discussion as to what Enbridge may have in mind for that land.

All of the moving pieces in the story provide for much in the way of a guessing game as to who has   what plan for the region and how development issues will be handled by both provincial and local governments.

You can review the full Globe article here.

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