Residents in the Pacific port town of 9,000 people, the planned western terminus of Northern Gateway, voted 58.4 percent against the proposed pipeline, according to the results released yesterday by the District of Kitimat in an e-mail. The plebiscite is non-binding.
Enbridge has faced opposition to the C$6.5 billion ($6 billion) Northern Gateway throughout British Columbia from aboriginals and environmental groups. Other municipalities, including Smithers and Fort St. James, have adopted resolutions against the pipeline, complicating the Calgary company’s efforts to ease a bottleneck for the growing supply of oil from northern Alberta’s oil sands and reduce the discount for Canadian crude.
“The people have spoken,” said Mayor Joanne Monaghan, in an interview after the results were released. “What happens now will depend on what council decides on Monday.”
Canadian regulators in December approved the project, subject to 209 conditions. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has promoted Canadian oil and natural gas resources to Asian buyers, has until June to make a decision on whether to allow the pipeline to go ahead.
“Today’s result shows that while there is support for Northern Gateway in Kitimat, we have more work to do,” said Donny van Dyk, Enbridge’s representative in Kitimat, in an e-mailed statement.
A total of 3,071 people cast their votes in the plebiscite, according to the District of Kitimat. The results followed a decision by aboriginal leaders along the proposed route to reiterate their ban on the pipeline crossing their claimed territory.
“Our decision to refuse consent for the Enbridge pipeline is a decision according to our own laws”, said Chief Fred Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy van Loon in Calgary at firstname.lastname@example.org