Municipal Election 2014

It’s municipal election time in Ontario. In the city of Kenora, three candidates are vying from the Mayor’s chair, and 11 candidates seek to fill the six council seats. Conversation about the Energy East pipeline project has surfaced has been at an all-candidates’ forum hosted by the Young Professionals Network of Kenora, where time constraints limited the number of respondents to only six candidates, who spoke to the following question:

“TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project proposes to convert one of the four natural gas pipelines that run through Kenora to carry diluted oil sands bitumen from Alberta to Atlantic Canada.  Given the potential impacts this project could have on Kenora residents and business owners, and on our lands and waters and the businesses that rely upon them, how would you, as a councilor, engage with Kenora residents on this issue, and what steps would you encourage the City to take to be involved in the decision making process around this project?”

 

While the question never asked candidates to weigh in with their opinions either in support or against the project, those who addressed the forum did share their positions. A full transcript of the candidate responses can be found here: Kenora Municipal Election Forum Response on Energy East

 

We’ve since canvassed the remaining candidates, asking them to share their positions with regard to Energy East. Only two candidates for Council are in favour of the project, as is one Mayoral candidate.  Two candidates are undecided but concerned, while the remaining ten candidates are all opposing TransCanada’s plans to bring diluted Alberta bitumen through Kenora.  Here’s what we’ve heard:

 

Candidate Comments Supportive of Energy East?
Sharon Smith Environmental Stewards[hip] is one of the seven core values that define the City of Kenora corporation. The Energy East conversion of a natural gas pipeline through our area is a concern for me. It proposes to convert a 40-year old pipeline designed and built to ship natural gas into a shipper of diluted bitumen. In my opinion this poses a risk to our waterways and community that will be difficult, if not impossible to mitigate. There is information that points to the unsafe practices of these shipping companies. There is history that points to the disregard of, and callous treatment given to communities after some of the disasters caused by shippers of crude oil (whether by rail, ship or pipeline). I do not believe that rail traffic of this product will decrease if the pipeline is converted – it will just mean we will have two unsafe shipping routes for this product through our community. Any decision around Energy East needs to be based on sound scientific evidence. As a Councillor I supported the intervention of NOMA as an intervener in the process. No
Louis Roussin I’ve been researching and reading all of the pros and cons about this development of this pipeline. It breaks down to [this]: we have to be absolutely certain that safety issues are in place, because I’m sure that pipeline is going to go through one way or the other. The safety issues: TransCanada Pipelines say they have the safety record equivalent to air traffic, which is, in the 90s, 99%. But one disaster can be horrendous to a community. So the safety issues have to be in place for explosions, leaks, going through our part of the province, because we have a lot of lakes and creeks and various other things. No
Colin Wasacase As for Energy East I am opposed. We need to continue to seek safer options , whether the be east, west, south BUT most importantly continue to encourage the development of solar. wind. etc..sustainable, natural sources of energy. We have been “dragging our feet” on this issue. No
Marion McKay This is quite a controversial subject. Now there’s lots of pros and cons for this. They’re going to tell, “If we go ahead with this pipeline, it will… that’s what we will be gaining for the benefits.” But then again we have to stop and think about the cons to this. Is it worth all the money to have our environment ruined?   Either way, we have to sit back and look at the data and figure out which is… how it would go: do we want the oil coming in trucks, across the same bridges and rivers? Or do we want it through a pipeline? We need to sit down and analyze what we have. Undecided
Tim Fullmer The risks are far greater than any benefit. If the product needs to go in tanker cars on the railroad and a spill did happen by accident it would be a lot smaller amount and hence easier to clean up. Kenora’s vision statement of being stewards of the lake and environment must be held. No
Rory McMillan As a member of Council, I have stood up to voice concerns about the impacts of this development. At the spring conference of the NOMA association a resolution was before us to support TransCanada Pipeline proceeding. I, along with the mayor of Thunder Bay, stood up to express our concerns and the need primarily for further consultation within the municipalities on what this impact would be. No
Mort Goss I see no  local cost/benefit positive outcome to the Energy East proposal.  I think it is a short sighted investment in a dying technology with  potential for horrific environmental impact and further, that it abrogates our pledge of stewardship, and the proactive  responsibilities that come with it.

I yearn for the day when our senior governments begin to exert  more effort  on green energy and when we take fewer risks with our environment.

No
Jeff Van Walleghem I believe that it is going to happen whether we like it or not. I grew up in the oil and gas industry and worked in it for quite a few years and have personally seen the transformation that the industry has made in regards to safety. From working with my dad from the age of 7 on the Canadian Mainline to drilling for oil and gas in my mid to late 20’s I have seen how the companies have adopted safety as a part of their corporate culture. That does not mean I think we should stand back and let them go ahead without ensuring that are concerns are heard and recognized.   Pipeline is one of the safest methods of transportation and converting a high pressure line to a low pressure one will actually increase the safety to our residents. We must however be diligent in ensuring extra precautions around our residential areas and water bodies. In addition we need to ensure there is the equipment and training available locally as part of their emergency response plan. I thank you and your group for keeping this issue on peoples minds. It is important that we look at all the options and ensure the safest method of delivery is chosen. Yes
Robert Kitowski One of the issues that I may have with the Energy East is that we have to protect our environment. We have one shot and that is all. They talk about the pipeline going through? It IS through Kenora. It’s that they want to change it. My concerns are that this pipeline was designed to pump natural gas. Natural gas leaks are considerably different than when it’s an oil leak. Natural gas leaks are cleaned up considerably. A slogan used at TransCanada is “the solution to pollution is dilution” and that will not work with oil. So, what I would do as a Council member if I’m fortunate is you get that data, and you need to communicate it to the citizens. No
Dan Reynard I will be the first to admit that my knowledge surrounding the Energy East project is very limited. Any exposure I have on the subject is from information gathered by reading through the local news media and online at CBC news. Having flown in small float planes north of Kenora on numerous occasions over the years one cannot help but be amazed over how bountiful & pristine are the rivers, lakes and forest that surround us. Personally I cannot fathom a situation whereby a pipeline can be constructed & operated through this area that would absolutely gaurantee the elimination of any potential risk to our environment.   However given that this project would generate significant economic benefits to not only large corporations but also several provinces and the federal government, my instinct tells me that the Energy East pipeline will move forward. Therefore I believe that is imperative that the City of Kenora not only ensure that NOMA acts on this area’s behalf as an Intervenor but that we as a community also react strongly as an Intervenor on our own behalf. No
Kelvin Chicago-Boucher The most recent obstacle we ran into was called the pipeline and the twinning of the highway. Every time an idea pops up, it’s an alternate environmental issue, and it’s always a First Nation group that objects to it. How do you deal with that?   I know how to deal with it, because I’ve dealt with Indian Affairs men and I’ve dealt with the Indian Act, and I’ve dealt with all the First Nations people in this region. I have insights on how to deal with things. But mostly, the thing that you do not understand is the thing called “consult and accommodate” that groups’ interests – groups. It doesn’t say “chief and council” it says “interest groups”. I don’t know how many Aboriginal off-reserve people we have here, but I want to be able to work on that pipeline too. I want to be able to work. And I’m not going to let that First Nations down the street from letting me have employment opportunities. Yes
Lydia Harlos I’m really against that. I do not want that East pipeline at all. No
Wendy Cuthbert I understand it is important to the oil companies to sell and supply their products in an efficient way with regard to their profits.  As a user I also want to be able to purchase their products at a competitive price.  I am Canadian and have not been convinced how this method of transportation will benefit us? (I must admit I have not ‘jumped in with both feet’ on this issue yet.)  I am extremely concerned about the pipeline method of transportation because I know that only one break/leak could mean the end of life as we know it in Kenora (or wherever) and I do not take lightly the value of our natural resource assets. Undecided
David Canfield The world is run by those who show up. And if you don’t show up, you’re not going to be a part of this process.   Now, what we did at NOMA and at our meeting a couple weeks ago, we unanimously voted to take intervener status on behalf of the municipalities across Northwestern Ontario. We just didn’t give a carte blanche, open book to TransCanada Pipeline. Here’s the reality, and I’m also a realist: going by rail is forty times more dangerous that pipeline. Going by truck is 140 times more dangerous than pipeline, and ship, I can’t remember, but it’s something like 20 or 18 or something like that. The reality check here is that if we show up and we’re there, and we’re part of the process, we put some strong demands on TransCanada right off the bat. And that means for water crossings – at any significant water crossing they have to have shut off valves on either side and these shut off valves would not ran by humans. The computer would shut them down. So you take out that human error component of it. We will be following this process right from the beginning to the end on behalf of the municipalities, the intervening municipalities that decide to become a part of it. The reason we are following it is not because we’re strictly in favour of Pipeline East, but we want it to be done right.   I don’t believe for a second the oil’s not going to flow one way or another to the east coast. It has to.   So how do you make it happen?   You follow it, you make it sure the guidelines are in place, and you make sure you are a part of the process and you show up and you be a part of the solution. If you don’t show up and you just complain, you’re part of the problem.” Yes

 

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