About Us

Alternatives to Energy East – Kenora is a campaign run by members of Transition Initiative Kenora, a grassroots organization of community people from Kenora, Ontario and the surrounding Lake of the Woods region.  We are mothers, fathers, grandparents, youth, community leaders, Anishinaabeg, Metis, and non-indigenous people of all walks of life who are all committed to ensuring our future is one with clean energy, a stable climate, and a healthy environment for all.

We are deeply concerned about TransCanada’s risky Energy East proposal to ship tar sands oil across Canada, and through the Lake of the Woods watershed.

Energy East threatens hundreds of communities and their drinking water sources with the risk of a tar sands oil spill. In addition to numerous water crossings around Kenora, the existing pipeline runs for hundreds of kilometers under marshes and sensitive wetlands in our area, and any oil spill here would be catastrophic not only to the local environment, but to our way of life and our $482 million regional tourism economy.

Kenora, North America's Premiere Boating Destination, on beautiful Lake of the Woods
Kenora, North America’s Premiere Boating Destination, on beautiful Lake of the Woods

Large spills are a statistical certainty with a pipeline this size. TransCanada’s claim of 99.9994% safety seems outstanding, but at 1.1 million barrels per day, or 174,900,000 litres per day, a 0.0006% failure rate still means the loss of 104,940 litres per day, or more than 38.3 million litres spilling from Energy East per year! Just one spill from Energy East –

TransCanada's Canadian Mainline, the yellow highlighted narrow blue line, crosses the Shoal Lake watershed, the source of the City of Winnipeg's drinking water supply.
TransCanada’s Canadian Mainline, the yellow highlighted narrow blue line, crosses the Shoal Lake watershed, the source of the City of Winnipeg’s drinking water supply.

such as into Shoal Lake, the source of Winnipeg’s drinking water, or the Winnipeg River – could devastate sensitive ecosystems, poison drinking water supplies, damage local economies, and harm Canadians’ health.

Kenora residents, like most Ontarians, would receive all of the risks, but few benefits from this project. Canadians overall have little to gain from this project, with ninety per cent of Energy East’s oil being exported unrefined. Canadians would barely use any of this pipeline’s oil. This is not a made-in-Canada energy solution, and it is a project that would contribute an additional 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, thereby undermining other Canadian efforts toward mitigating climate change.

Energy East’s risks far outweigh any perceived benefits, and we are committed to calling for better alternatives to meet our future energy needs.

Please scroll through this site to find links to resources, information, discussions and events related to creating a better energy future for Kenora and area.


5 thoughts on “About Us

  1. This is a very one-sided perspective of the issue and qualifies as a NIMBY position. Crude oil will move to markets; if not by pipeline then by train. I much prefer the safety and security of pipelines.


    • Ken, no one is arguing that oil is not currently moving to markets or that the means of doing so isn’t already questionable. What we are saying is that we do not condone moving oil by a second, unsafe conduit through our area. As much as we may dislike the transport of oil by rail even with the pipeline approved, it will continue to happen. Why? Two reasons: first, dilbit, the product that would be carried in the pipeline, is a slurry of semi-solid bitumen thinned to a liquid using diluent solvents. Currently, diluents are in short supply in North America, and so when any of the product gets refined at the marine refineries, the diluent would be recovered and shipped back to Alberta on the trains. Dilbit would flow west to east, diluent would flow east to west. Second, given the government and industry’s projections to increase oil sands production from the current 1.8 million bpd to as much as 4.8 – 6 million bpd by 2030, there simply is not enough take away capacity to meet those demands without retaining rail as part of the distribution system. Rail, it would seem, is here to stay and the only way it appears possible to slow its use is to slow oil production itself. Also, it’s worth noting that the product that is currently carried through Kenora on trains isn’t Alberta oil – it’s mostly North Dakota Bakken shale oil. Hydraulic fractured shale oil wells only last 3-5 years on average, making them difficult to service with pipelines, which is why rail is the preferred method of shipping this kind of product. Although Energy East would have a Bakken tie-in, it is expected that most Bakken oil will continue to move largely by train.


    • The term NIMBY implies that those of us working to promote alternatives to EE are OK with building new fossil fuel infrastructure as long as it’s “not in our backyard.” That’s simply not true. Most of us have been working for climate justice and environmental protection for years, and have been deeply concerned about other transport routes as well (such as Keystone, or Northern Gateway). This is a larger issue, about how we want to proceed as a a society. Will we keep increasing our production rate at all costs, or will we pause and consider the consequences? Given what we know about the risks of climate change, it seems like that would be the careful, conservative thing to do.

      Saying “crude oil will move to markets” is a defeatist position that does not reflect reality…as citizens of this country, we get to decide how we want to exploit our natural resources, and at what cost to the environment and to our well-being. Unfortunately, many Canadians have forgotten that and have passively handed over the reigns to a petro-state that does as it pleases.

      The EE pipeline does bring these issues closer to home for many people in this region, and maybe that is a good thing. Perhaps it will encourage them to take an honest look at these issues: climate disruption, fossil fuel dependency and depletion, the limits to growth, etc. and, hopefully, find the courage to stand up for themselves and for future generations.


    • No Ken it won’t. The economics of oil shipments show that only economically viable way to ship oil that distance is by pipeline. CP estimates that shipping a barrel of oil from Westover to Saint John by rail (the East Route) would cost up to $22. That means the oil companies would lose money shipping this oil by rail.

      If Energy East isn’t built, there will be less of an increase in the production of oilsands – and the oil will stay safely in the ground.

      The oil travelling by rail through Kenora comes from different sources (Bakken Shale) than the oil that would be shipped on Energy East (oil sands). If Energy East is built, there will NOT be less oil trains. Rather Kenora will face double the risk of an oil spill – since there will be both a massive high pressure oil pipeline AND massive oil trains.

      The only way to keep Kenora and its water safe from oil spills is to reject Energy East.


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