Thursday, December 1, 2016

City Council's 'LNG conditions Wars' ... The Business Empire Strikes Back!

Ten Prince Rupert residents took to
the microphone at City Council on
Monday night to discuss issues related
to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project
Monday's Committee of the Whole public comment period at the City Council session turned into an impromptu discussion on issues related to LNG development and how the city should approach the issue.

The commentary on the night for the most part focused on the events of the Council meeting of November 14th, when Councillor Joy Thorkelson introduced her motion related to Pacific NorthWest LNG and a controversial item that calls for the City to withhold support for the project unless a number of conditions are met.

To refresh your memory on what the motion included, our review of the November 14th Council Session provides a glimpse into the range of conditions and the discussion that took place around the Chamber. Those talking points made for a night which featured a lengthy and times emotional listing of items that received loud support from by a large crowd in the gallery, many of them members of the local fish workers union UFAWU-Unifor.

That theme of putting conditions on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project proved to be the lightning rod to bring a number of members of the city's business community to the meeting on Monday.

Through the thirty minutes of public comment, many of the participants were ready to provide the counter points to Ms. Thorkelson's motion of last week, calling attention to a number of themes, ranging from job creation to the fact that the prospect of any conditions for the project are outside the jurisdiction of the city, and the mandate of City Council.

Terms like appalling, disappointing, hijacked, intimidation and bullies marked some of the tone of the presentations, as one after the other, they took to the microphone to offer counsel to the City Council members, a number of whom urged Council to defeat the motion that they are currently reviewing.

Many of those that are in support of the Pacific NorthWest project and who took part in Monday's discussion are prominent in the business community, with Keith Lambourne, Brian Musgrave, John Farrell, Rodney Proskiw and John Marogna providing some background to the debate on what City Council should focus on when it comes the issue of negotiations with the LNG proponent.

"We are satisfied that the process has been thorough and all the legal pieces are in place for the project to proceed and I would just like to wish the council well in their negotiations, which I understand are ongoing with PNWLNG, and I hope you negotiate the best possible deal that you can for the citizens of Prince Rupert" -- Keith Lambourne, providing the Chamber of Commerce position on the topic of the city's LNG discussions. 

Mr. Musgrave noted how there are many families in Prince Rupert relying on Council to make tough decisions on such issues as development, while Mr. Marogna recalled many of the past projects that never materialized and how Council must avoid listening to the negative voices in the community.

John Farrell noted how he had been appalled by the protests at the last council session and how he believes he speaks for the Silent Majority in the community that wants to see the LNG project move forward in order to provide jobs for the young people on the region.

"Unlike the organizers of the protest that we saw a week and a half ago,  I have faith in my neighbouring communities of Kitkatla, Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams, and they have already said that they will be monitoring this project ensuring that the salmon and the Skeena estuary are safe." -- John Farrell speaking to council on the LNG issues facing Council members.

Mr. Proskiw also made a number of strong statements related to wishing to see the project move forward, he currently is seeking the nomination for the Liberal party in the upcoming provincial election and through his comments of Monday he noted that members of Council and residents of the city would be hearing more from him in the weeks to come.

Others such as Scott Farwell and Tom Chang appeared as concerned citizens, and like those speaking previous also offered up some cautionary tones for Council to consider.

Mr. Farwell in particular expressed his disappointed at how the previous Council session had been hijacked and urged Council to send a message to what he described as bullies, to let them know that they won't be able to hijack City council's work anymore.

"I'm disappointed in the fact that the council meeting of November the 17th I believe it was, was hijacked by a number of outspoken individuals, and that the manner did not provide Council with the respect that it's due as elected officials. The office of the council chambers is really one where people should be able to come in and speak their mind without fear of retribution or intimidation from others and anything that doesn't allow that is disrespectful  and should not be allowed in our community, and I was very disappointed  -- Scott Farwell, with his thoughts on some of the recent events in the Council chamber.

Chris Sankey, representing the Lax Kw'alaams government provide a short overview as to how that community is approaching the issues related to the proposed LNG project, adding that Lax Kw'alaams was not going to be dictated to by other communities and that they would move forward with their process in a productive and efficient manner.

There was one voice speaking out strongly against many of the proposed LNG developments, as Leona Peterson, a Metlakatla resident offered up a number of issues of concern related to the environmental impact of LNG development and her fears for the community should the projects move forward.

The main theme on the night however appeared to be designed to direct City Council to defeat Councillor Thorkelson's motion and her condition to withhold support when it next comes up for discussion.

Many took to reminding council that the main focus they should have at this time is to negotiate the best Benefits Agreement that they can with Pacific NorthWest LNG.

You can review a more comprehensive synopsis of each participants discussion points from our City Council Timeline found here.

The video archive of Monday evening's rebuke of the Thorkelson motion can be found below, the thirty minutes of commentary starts at the very start of the night.

For more items related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project see our archive page here.

Further notes on City Council developments can be found on our Council Archive page.

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