Kitimat gets ready for Joint Review hearings, protest rally and visit by NDP federal caucus

Kitimat is getting ready for the next round of Joint Review hearings in the district on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.

The JRP is scheduled to hold the ten minute comment hearings at the Haisla Recreation Centre on the afternoon of June 25 and 26. The hearings scheduled for June 27 have been cancelled because, the JPR says: “The number of registered participants does not require the hearing session on 27 June.”  As with other locations, it appears that many people are dropping out of the hearings because given Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s determination to push through the pipeline no matter what and they feel their voices will not matter.

On Monday night, June 18, the District of Kitimat Council approved a request from Douglas Channel Watch for a protest rally to be held Sunday, June 24, at 2 p.m. in the lower parking lot at City Centre Mall. The application to the council said that a number of speakers will also address the issue of the government’s omnibus Bill C-38.

Margaret Ouwehand of Douglas Channel Watch, also noted in her application, “we wish to have a short march where participants would walk on sidewalks and obey all traffic signals.” In the report on the application, District staff noted that under the BC Municipal Code, a march of more than 30 people is considered a parade and in the case of Kitimat would also require the permssion of the local RCMP. The protest rally is being heavily promoted on Twitter and Facebook as well as more traditional media, so it is likely that there will be more than 30 people participating in the rally and march.

At the same time, some members of the federal NDP caucus will be in Kitimat for the second day of the hearings. A release from the NDP says Deputy Leader and Environment Critic Megan Leslie will lead the delegation to the northwest.

“Our caucus feels so strongly about the risks of Enbridge that many MPs are joining Megan to stand up to heavy-handed Conservative tactics,” said Skeena-Bulkley MP and House Leader Nathan Cullen. “The government has gutted environmental assessments and is trying to ram this project through and we’re not going to let that happen.”

The NDP Enbridge tour begins on Monday, June 25 with events and a public forum in Vancouver, a clear attempt to gain major media attention there, especially in an era where budget-strapped news organizations are always reluctant to send people to Kitimat.

Leslie and Cullen will then lead a smaller delegation to meet with Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross and will tour a portion of the proposed marine route that oil supertankers would take to transport raw bitumen to Asia from Kitimat.

As well as attending the JRP hearings at Kitamaat Village, the NDP caucus plan to meet with local muncipal leaders in Kitimat as well as municipal officials and First Nations leaders from other communities.

“I’m really looking forward to key members of our Opposition caucus meeting with people who are directly affected by Enbridge,” Cullen said in his news release.

“Having taken part in dozens of Enbridge rallies and meetings over the years, I know there will be many very powerful moments. It’ll be pretty up front and personal.

“Megan and our caucus are here to stand in solidarity with residents of the Northwest in opposing a dangerous project that brings us so many risks and really only benefits Enbridge shareholders.”

In the evening after the JRP hearings, the NDP will then hold a public forum at the Best Western Inn in Terrace, starting about 6:30 p.m. (depending on the length of the afternoon JRP hearings)

Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski and perhaps members of other local councils will make a welcoming statement, followed by an address from MEgan and then an information session with presentations from individuals & organizations, followed by a question and answer session and break-out groups for those interested.

With the June 27 JRP hearings now cancelled, there may be a second public meeting in Kitimat that afternoon starting at 12:30 p.m. but that is yet to be confirmed.


(Typo fixed, correcting day of rally from Monday to Sunday)