BC residents flock to Comox for Northern Gateway pipeline hearings

Winter Morning, Comox Glacier

Winter Morning, Comox Glacier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Victoria – People from every corner of Vancouver Island and southern BC are converging in Comox, as the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project holds public hearings in the town, culminating in a public rally at 1pm, at the Comox Recreation Centre.

The Comox Valley chapters of the Council of Canadians and the Sierra Club, together with the Wilderness Committeeand other environmental groups, are calling on all concerned British Columbians to stand up for the environment and the rights of First Nations through whose lands the pipeline will pass.

“An oil spill would be devastating for those whose livelihoods and way of life will be irreparably harmed by an oil spill,” said Mike Bell of the Sierra Club. “This impacts our waters, and our social and economic environment – therefore the decision should be ours to make.”

As has been the case at previous sessions in Calgary, Edmonton and Northern BC, the vast majority of the people who will address the Panel will be expressing their opposition to the Northern Gateway Project, an Enbridge pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat to facilitate tanker shipments to Asia, endangering the Great Bear Rain Forest and hundreds of rivers and streams as well as the waters of Douglas Channel and the Pacific coast. The Polaris Institute reported in 2008 that Enbridge’s own data revealed 610 spills from Enbridge pipelines from 1999 to 2008.

“The danger of a spill is very real,” said Ben West, Healthy Communities Campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. “That’s why we are helping mobilize people from across Vancouver Island, by carpool and other means, to join the rally in Comox.”

Speakers at the rally include local environmental activists as well as representatives of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union and the Dogwood Initiative. “With both the Harper and Clark governments pushing for less regulation and environmental protection so that mining and other resource extraction projects can be fast-tracked, it’s time to make our voices heard,”

Gwyn Frayne, local spokesperson for the Council of Canadians, called on everyone to “stand against pipelines and tankers, stand up to Big Oil and Gas, stand with indigenous communities, and stand up for future generations, and ensure that the Northern Gateway Project is defeated.”

A number of other local groups, as well as organizations like the Dogwood Inititative and the Wilderness Committee, helped to mobilize people for the March 31 convergence in Comox.