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Standing room only for Energy East Pipeline presentation

Wednesday, February 19, 2014   by: Jamie Lyle

Council chambers were packed beyond capacity on Tuesday evening, filled with local residents who were eager to voice their concerns regarding the Energy East Pipeline Project, set to run through North Bay.

But before that, council held a special committee meeting, which lasted roughly 20 minutes, to discuss financial issues regarding the Memorial Garden's renovation project.

The meeting was designed to amend 2014's capital budget in order to absorb the 5.2 million dollar cost overrun without drawing on city reserves.

In doing so, council was forced to defer other capital projects, which were set to commence this year, pushing them further into the future.

Some councillors were concerned that 2014's budget, with millions less to spend on capital projects in North Bay, would see local construction and trades people upset that the city would have to cut back extensively on their infrastructure plans for this year.

The brief meeting also seemingly saw the Chair of Community Services guide councillors away from asking further questions about the nitty-gritty of how and why things went down at the Gardens, focusing only on how to pay for it in a formal and legal process.

However, it was noted during the meeting that further discussions and more clarity may be on the horizon, with a second report coming soon, which may or may not be released to the public.

Gardens issues aside, Council saw chambers full of concerned residents during the regular portion of council, voicing an environmental message about bitumen, which is soon to begin being pumped through North Bay and, according to many informed citizens, near the Trout Lake watershed, too close for comfort.

Representatives from the Energy East Pipeline also delivered a presentation which centered on an issue that is ultimately out of council's jurisdiction and governed at a federal level, even though the municipal water system is an asset to which citizens seem fiercely devoted to protect.

Council is to confer with representatives from the Energy East Pipeline in a closed meeting on Wednesday.

Some of the presenters opposed to the Energy East Pipeline spoke to the numerous natural gas breaks around the city over the years, and even had one presenter speaking of her displeasure that she is in an environment of political oppression, with a local institution that is looking to mandate their policies on those who are involved in their system.

Other presentations saw concerns citizens stand up for theirs in North Bay, saying that the city can find the money to afford entertainment, like the Gardens, but many people are still finding it hard to come to a means to an end, with the high cost of rent, hydro, transit and a lack of employment infrastructure that for them it seems, to be overlooked as a necessity for the city's residents, many of whom wish the corporation would get back to its basic mandate of attracting jobs and being an affordable and friendly city. 

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