Photo: Brian Levers of Encana speaks to the crowd at Tate Creek School – Johanna Henderson/Energeticcity.ca
Representatives from the RCMP and Encana addressed the citizens of Tomslake in a public forum Oct. 17, providing some answers while withholding others.
The meeting was facilitated by Dawson Creek’s Staff Sgt. Steven Grant, who said the RCMP was doing everything they could to protect the safety of the public. As of Oct. 17, a one-kilometre radius around the second blast site is blocked off to the public as investigations continue.
The crowd of more than 200 who gathered in the gym of Tate Creek Elementary were mostly Tomslake residents. Questions ranged from the practical – such as how Encana is monitoring the pipelines for breaks – to the slightly frivilous, such as the type of detonator used in the explosions.
Several key points were raised, however. Sgt. Tim Shields of the RCMP stated the importance of the public’s assistance, saying that the vast majority of crimes are solved because of an initial tip from the public.
Shields said that the RCMP has received a number of tips, but could not comment on how close the force was to an arrest.
When asked how to determine who was a suspicious person, Shields urged residents to rely on their instincts.
Brian Levers of Encana spoke to the crowd about increased security on the pipelines. Aside from increased ground patrols and surveillance, Levers said helicopters are flying over the pipelines with infrared technology to look for signs of damage. Levers also said the company had reduced production on one of its pipelines and a few of its projects in the area in order to improve surveillance at this time.
Levers also responded to some members of the crowd who were angry that representatives from Murphy Oil – another company with several pipelines in the area – were not in attendance. Levers cited the short notice of the meeting as the reason for the company’s absence.
The crowd, which included the likes of MLA Blair Lekstrom, Chief Caillou of the Kelly Lake Cree Nation and several councillors from Dawson Creek, seemed primarily concerned with how they could protect themselves in the event of a pipeline rupture. One woman asked how she could get involved with the pipeline monitoring and surveillance team. Staff Sgt. Steven Grant said that the Tomslake Rural Crimewatch and Citizens on Patrol are organizations the public can join, and they can contact the RCMP detachment for more information.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Reid of the Prince George RCMP urged people to maintain patience as the investigation continues, saying the timeline of the investigation could be much longer than the public anticipated.
Crimestoppers is offering a reward for tips that lead to the arrest of the person or persons responsible.