KITIMAT, B.C. – District of Kitimat Council voted Monday night to hold a plebiscite to exactly determine the thoughts of the North Coast community regarding Enbridge Northern Gateway project.
District council and staff will decide the actual question for voters and the date for the non-binding, referendum-style vote in the coming weeks.
The council decision follows the Dec. 19 release of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel decision that approved the pipeline and tanker project carrying bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands across B.C., for shipment overseas by tanker.
The District of Kitimat is remaining neutral on the multi-billion dollar project and issued a statement late last year saying council will take the necessary time to review the Joint Review Panel report in order to understand its contents and decisions.
The upcoming plebiscite fulfills council’s resolution adopted last January to survey Kitimat residents about their opinion of the Northern Gateway project, once the review panel completed its work.
In proposing the vote, Councillor Rob Goffinet says it gives total responsibility to every adult citizen of Kitimat to express their point of view in a yes or no ballot.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff, who earlier in the evening had, for the first time, declared that he favours the Northern Gateway project, told council he supported use of a polling firm to conduct a survey, which he believed could produce a more statistically significant result than a plebiscite.
Staff assured council that although the vote would have to be held under the provisions of the Local Government Act, which covers elections and referenda, use of a plebiscite would give council more flexibility in deciding how the balloting would take place. The act would still cover voter eligibility and the use of campaign signs.
Councillors also approved a motion calling on the District to meet with Enbridge to discuss an enhanced pipeline leak detection system where a leak could “impact the Kitimat watershed.”