Thursday, June 2, 2016

City Council to tackle Enbridge extension and tanker ban issues at future session

Prince Rupert City Council will soon be taking a look at some of the issues related to a request from Enbridge Energy to seek an extension on its Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, that after Councillor Joy Thorkelson served notice of motion to Council at Monday evening's Council session, that will introduce the topic at an upcoming meeting.

While not offering up any specifics as to what she wishes to discuss at the upcoming council session, Ms. Thorkelson also observed that she would like to include the topic of the Federal Government's plans for an oil tanker ban to be included in those discussions as well.

In April, Alberta premier Rachel Notley floated the trial balloon that Enbridge might be interested in finding an alternative port for it's planned terminal, with Prince Rupert suggested by the Premier as one potential site to replace the controversial Kitimat proposal.

On the theme of Monday's notice of motion, Mayor Brain advised the City's Corporate administrator to take note of the request and to take the necessary steps to include it as part of the Agenda for an upcoming session.

Should they move forward on the topic it won't be the first time that the subject of the Northern Gateway project has made for a discussion topic for members of Prince Rupert City Council.

Issues related to the original Northern Gateway proposal were a featured item of note for some council members during the 2012 Northern Gateway hearings process, with both Councillor Thorkelson and then Councillor Rice expressing their concerns about the impact of the proposed development on the North Coast.

It also is a topic that launched the political career of Mayor Lee Brain, his appearance as a then relatively unknown social activist at the Prince Rupert hearings was featured prominently by those opposing the Northern Gateway project during those early hearings.

In fact, in a number of articles that came out following his election to the Mayoralty of November of 2014, Mayor Brain frequently mentioned that his appearance at the Northern Gateway hearings provided for the push for him to consider his run for political office.

In May, Ms. Thorkelson in her role as the Northern Representative for UFAWU-Unifor, was a signatory to a letter of concern to the Federal Government, which called on the Liberal Government of Justin Trudeau to not allow for the Enbridge extension.

The introduction of the theme of Enbridge and the oil tanker ban for the June Council Session however will provide for a bit of a challenge for Council members, as they try to decide how to allocate the appropriate amount of public time for an issue that while close to the heart for many, particularly some of those on Council, may be a bit removed from the normal duties of a City Council.

Expressing the view of Council on the issue would no doubt be of some help in the process ahead for Federal MP Nathan Cullen and Provincial MLA Jennifer Rice on the issue.  However the past has shown that the introduction of such topics at Council, at times provides for an issue that dominates the discussion on municipal time, something that might leave residents of the City concerned that other issues of more immediate concern are not being addressed in an equal fashion.

Many residents might perhaps wish that Council members would provide for similar amounts of time set aside for public discussion on such issues as the status of the Watson Island lawsuit, creating conditions for job creation for the region, addressing the need for a new RCMP detachment and Fire Station, or any number of the many other issues that don't seem to get much of a thorough review during the regular public council sessions.

You can review the short introduction of the potential talking points from the City's Video Archive starting at the 50 minute point.

The latest items of note on the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposals can be found here.

More notes related to Monday's Council session can be reviewed from our Council Timeline.

Further background on events at Prince Rupert City Council can be found on our Archive page.

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