Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What may or may not be coming down the pipeline in Kitimat, preparing just in case in Terrace and adopting plots of cemetery land in Prince Rupert, some of the highlights of the Tuesday edition of the Daily News.

KITIMAT HAS MIXED VIEWS ON LOCAL PIPELINES-- The impact of a potential pipeline to Kitimat to export oil and import bitumen was the topic of an information session in the Aluminum city last week, as the Kitimat Rod and Gun club provided a forum for author Andrew Nikiforuk, to outline some of his concerns over the development of Alberta Tar Sands and plans to ship that product through a shipment facility in the Kitimat area (see story below)

The warm weather raises more than the temperature as Terrace officials continue to keep their residents on alert over potential flooding. As we mentioned on the blog last week and again on Monday, Terrace Fire officials have been urging their residents to be proactive in the face of the rising temps and potentially rising waters. The Daily News offers up some details on the Terrace concerns and local feedback as well.

With the cemetery in need of a little attention, Tuesday's paper outlined some of the background behind the "Adopt a Plot" program. Which will see local volunteers take on the task of bringing some of the more troubled plots at the cemetery back up to an acceptable standard. While the committee behind the beautification project has the supplies, the city it seems does not have the labour to tackle the project. Thus a call for volunteers, who could win a trip to the Charlottes for their efforts to rediscover some of Prince Rupert's lost history.

Track and Field results from a recent Smithers track meet finally get relayed to the Daily News and the paper provides a look at the wrestling career of former Prince Rupert resident Stuart Brown, who now grapples and wrassles as the Mauler.

Total pages in the Tuesday edition (12)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pages one and five

Kitimat isn't too far away from Prince Rupert geographically or economically.

Kitimat is both at the centre and the end of the pipeline discussion. Enbridge's proposed $4.6 billion project would terminate in the town on the Douglas Channel, a 90 km stretch of water that leads from Hecate Strait to the smelter town.

The industrial town situated a two-hour drive from Prince Rupert has seen better days. Much like Prince Rupert, the community has seen significant drop in population over the last decade as local industries have declined and forestry has struggled.

Enter pipeline projects. For a town that was created by the Alcan aluminum smelter, potential environmental challenges can be understood along with economic opportunities.

That sentiment was echoed at Friday's meeting hosted by the Kitimat Rod and Gun Club, where a full house listened to Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Oil Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.

"You have to ask serious questions about a capital project worth $4 billion that only employs 200 people at the end of the day," said Nikiforuk. "That's not going to solve a lot of problems in the Northwest"

Nikiforuk believed that the Enbridge project was about exporting jobs to Asia because Canada was not upgrading or refining the product in house, so to speak.

While the night was an opportunity for those who oppose the growth of oil transportation through the North to voice their concerns about the project, the audience response to the presentation was mixed.

There were those in attendance who felt that people did not truly understand what it was they were opposing.

"Most people who came here, drove here," said Sean O'Driscoll, 71. O'Driscoll, whose has lived in Kitimat for 30 years, warned that the quality of life British Columbians enjoy is in large part due to oil and that by saying no to a project such as Enbridge's Northern Gateway they put that quality at risk.

"I would not condemn this project. It would be great for spin-offs where the benefits are there," said O'Driscoll.

Enbridge has said that if its project were to go ahead, the marine safety would improve and the coastal waters would be protected.

People who live in Kitimat are not afraid of industry, but there are some who have their doubts that bringing in bitumen oil can have long-term safety benefits for the community and the Douglas channel.

Kitimat is right beside Kitimaat Village, a Haisla enclave just down the road from the town centre. Haisla member Ray Green, 71, who spoke to the Daily News back in February about his concerns over the disappearance of eulachon fish in the Douglas channel, said he opposes the project based on spill concerns.

"I doubt it will be safe. We forget that the Titanic was unsinkable but it went down," said Green.

No matter the concerns, there can be no doubt that a decline is underway in Kitimat. According to the census report in 2001, there were 10,000 people living there. By the 2006 census report, that number had reduced to just over 8,000 people.

So, on balance, 160 promised jobs through marine support and oil terminal operations could mean a lot.

"Remember everyone has got to eat," said O'Driscoll.

A Kitimat woman spoke of how, if there were choices to be made, then why isn't big industry supplying them? To her, she felt society has forced a lack of choice on people and that without a solid alternative, oil was the only option.

"If there is a better choice, 1 would do it. If you go to the supermarket and see an apple stand you always choose the glossiest one. But we all need jobs. So is there a more environmentally sound project and an industry that can come here and produce it?"

The presenters were not equipped to answer that particular question, but Nikiforuk responded by suggesting that the way oil has transformed our life is coming to an end and asked the question about why Canada was so readily moving product out of the nation.

"This is an export pipeline. That's something you need to think about. Why are we not adding any value to [the bitumen oil] product?" he asked.

Nikiforuk is advising Canadians across the country to start asking difficult questions about how the nation exploits its oil product.

Enbridge Northern Gateway vice president of government and community affairs, Steve Greenaway, said that community discussion is part of how the oil transport company is
scoping out its project.

"[Discussion] is absolutely critical to having a successful project," said Greenaway.

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