EDMONTON – Stung by criticism in Quebec of the proposed Energy East pipeline, Alberta municipalities are hailing the project’s promise of jobs and economic growth.
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association has written a letter to its sister organizations across Canada seeking their support for Energy East.
“The letter cites estimates by the Conference Board of Canada that this project will support over 14,000 jobs annually during a nine-year development and construction stage,” reads an association briefing note about the letter.
“The pipeline will also provide $10 billion in tax revenues to the provinces.”
The letter also touts how the pipeline would enable access to markets in Europe and Asia, reduce Canada’s dependence on foreign oil and create 3,300 permanent jobs once it was complete.
Association president Lisa Holmes said Alberta communities don’t want to allow naysayers to grab the spotlight on a project that would help the province as it struggles with an economic crisis brought on by slumping oil prices.
“We see the impact of our current economic situation on everyone in our communities — our friends, our neighbours, business owners. We need to be a voice for them,” Holmes said Tuesday.
Holmes said the association’s main message is that Energy East is so important to Canada’s economic future that municipal groups across the country should speak out.
“We are stepping up and saying this is a national project and it needs help. We are hoping that the other provincial associations will see that and will support us in our rallying cry, which is ‘Go East,'” she said.
“Make sure that this project happens and stand up to some of the criticism that is being put forward.”
Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.’s (TSX:TRP) pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels a day of crude from Alberta and Saskatchewan as far east as Saint John, N.B., to serve domestic refineries and international customers.
The proposal has run into flak in Quebec where the mayors of Montreal and surrounding municipalities are arguing that environmental risks outweigh the economic rewards.
On Monday night protesters denounced the pipeline at Quebec environmental hearings on the project.
Holmes said the association is to meet with federal cabinet ministers in Ottawa next month to follow up its lobbying efforts.
The president of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association said it supports Alberta’s call for communities to speak out in favour of Energy East.
Debra Button is also the mayor of Weyburn, a community in the heart of Saskatchewan’s struggling oilpatch.
“I support Alberta’s letter. I have received it. We are certainly feeling the downturn in the economy right now in the southeast corner of the province,” she said.
“Maybe we have stepped outside the box for what is a municipal issue, but this is too important to not step outside that box — to work toward the greater well-being.”
Last month, the Saskatchewan association passed a resolution that calls Energy East “integral to the economic prosperity of Western Canada and the entire country” and sent it to the federal government.