The development of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project was the focus of Tuesday’s Chamber of Commerce business luncheon.
Fort St. John business owners met with Enbridge officials to discuss the development of the pipeline which, if completed, would run from Edmonton, Alta. to the port at Kitimat B.C.
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Enbridge Spokesperson Doug Ford says the company’s main concerns are directly related to the preservation of the physical environment surrounding the pipeline, as well as the communities it would affect. He put an emphasis on aboriginal communities, saying he hoped they would be willing to take advantage of the benefits the pipeline could provide for them.
Ford says there are several benefits involved in the development of this pipeline. He says if the pipeline is constructed, that it would create up to 900 jobs in Northeastern B.C. and after construction is complete, 15 full time jobs would be available for people living in the Northeast.
He also says he believes the project would increase Canada’s gross domestic product by $270 billion.
However, Ford touched on a variety of challenges the company is facing. The project is highly controversial and one towards which the public is not sympathetic. He also says he feels that the public’s lack of general knowledge about the pipeline is a major setback and that people believe that the project’s costs will outweigh its benefits. He says that overcoming these challenges are some of the most difficult the organization is facing.
Furthermore, Ford says that the general public is not the only opponent the company is facing. He says environmental agencies are highly opposed to the pipeline and the company is finding it difficult to alter their perceptions of the project.
Dan Pope, the minister of economic development for the Métis Nation of B.C. expressed concerns regarding the construction of the pipeline. Pope told Ford that the pipeline’s construction must be well thought out and should provide job opportunities for local residents. However, Pope says he feels the pipeline can be beneficial if it is thoroughly planned out.
According to Ford, the development of the pipeline is a long and tedious process. The Federal Government is expected to hold public hearings beginning as early as September 2011.
The pipeline would be the largest privately funded project in B.C., providing $1.2 billion in provincial tax revenues. If constructed, it would cross 773 waterways.
A 20,000 page application has already been submitted and is being reviewed by a joint view panel. This is comprised of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.