Concerned Citizens Coalition for the pipeline to pack council chambersMonday, December 09, 2013 by: Kate Adams
Tar Sands Concerned Citizens Coalition
At the Monday December 9th City Council meeting, concerned citizens will present to North Bay City Council about the Energy East Pipeline and the importance of protecting municipal drinking water.
Council chambers will be packed, with well over 100 residents expected to bear witness to the presentation.
"I'm optimistic in that local leaders understand the perils of converting our natural gas pipeline to move bitumen and diluents through 38 km of the Trout Lake Watershed," said local resident Kelly Anne Smith who recently presented to the North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authority on the same subject.
"Our water is a human right and has to be protected -- from all risks."
This will be the second time residents have presented the subject to Council.
A few days after their first presentation Mayor Al McDonald publicly announced his intention to seek intervenor status at the upcoming National Energy Board hearings.
"I want to make sure I'm at the table to protect those interests and convey our concerns," Mayor Al McDonald told the CBC's Morning North.
Now residents will be looking for those same kind of firm commitments from Councillors.
"I felt very positive after the first meeting," said Zoë Couch who was one of the first to present about the issue at City Council, "I was encouraged by the interest taken and the questions posed and felt that Council are taking the issue seriously and that we were able to demonstrate to them the great risk this initiative is posing for North Bay and show them that there is something they can do about it. I feel there is a real chance here for the City of North Bay to be recognized as a Gateway to Responsibility when it comes to this issue."
This issue already has put North Bay on the map.
A humorous action residents undertook to raise awareness that TransCanada is attempting this pipeline without holding proper a community consultation took off and became a movement, grabbing headlines across the continent.
"We did the national US media circuit and were able to present our concerns in a friendly way, but more importantly, we took those interviews as an invitation to talk about North Bay and how great this community is," said Yan Roberts who organized a recent event about the pipeline issue, "In the process of telling them how bad we think their pipeline plan is, we are going to tell the World about how great this community is."
The media attention and the public's appetite of concern over this issue is on a local level as well.
After a pipeline event last month where 150 concerned citizens gathered on the shores of Trout Lake, the resulting local article on the issue was the most-shared local article ever.
The new Federal legislative landscape with reduced protection for waterways and environments is an open door for municipalities to fill these important roles.
While pipeline systems that cross provincial boundaries are regulated by the federal government (primarily under the authority of the National Energy Board), the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association acknowledges that "pipeline operations may also be subject to regulations of other federal, provincial or municipal bodies."
"I anticipate Council will jump up and make this a priority," says Yan Roberts, "and not because this is an election year and this issue clearly has the momentum, but instead that they simply understand with superb clarity that a love of one's community includes a loyalty to the water which sustains us."
All residents are encouraged to come out for Monday's Council Meeting: Monday December 9th at City Hall, 7:00pm.
"We're telling residents that their voice is important, their concerns are shared, and their community will be even stronger with their participation," says Roberts.