Enbridge defeat in Kitimat plebiscite renews call for B.C. referendum on pipeline

58.4 percent of Kitimat voters say no to Northern Gateway project

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      Residents of Kitimat have rejected the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project in a non-binding plebiscite.

      1,793 residents (58.4 percent) voted "no" and 1,278 residents (41.6 percent) cast "yes" ballots in the northwestern B.C. municipality, which will host Northern Gateway's marine terminal if the pipeline is built.

      “The people have spoken. That’s what we wanted - it’s a democratic process,” District of Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan said in a news release announcing the unofficial results of the Saturday (April 12) vote. “We’ll be talking about this Monday night at Council, and then we’ll go from there with whatever Council decides.”

      Following the plebiscite, Dogwood Initiative, an environmental group fighting Northern Gateway, launched a new website seeking support for a potential citizens' initiative against the project. This would see a Fight HST-style petition campaign gather signatures in hopes of earning a provincewide vote on the issue.

      “This project would have serious ramifications for the whole province, so all British Columbians deserve to vote on it,” Kai Nagata, energy and democracy director for Dogwood, said in a news release. “That should extend far beyond just speaking to a panel or writing your local newspaper. Regardless of whether you support this proposal, the decision should be made by British Columbians."

      Dogwood's site, Let B.C. Vote, allows people to electronically sign a pledge to "support a citizens' initiative to give British Columbians the chance to vote on plans to expand oil pipelines and tanker traffic on our coast".

      "If the federal and provincial governments green-light pipeline and oil tanker expansion proposals despite majority opposition in B.C., we need a democratic insurance policy. And thanks to our province's unique direct democracy laws, we have the power to put this to a vote," the site states.

      The Straight on Friday (April 11) asked John Horgan, the sole B.C. NDP leadership candidate, and Nathan Cullen, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, for their thoughts on holding a provincewide referendum on new tar-sands pipelines. Both politicians rejected the idea.

      “I would rather not see a referendum take place on issues like this,” Horgan said at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver. “We need science to direct us. We need the law and the rights and title of First Nations to be first and foremost. Government officials should look at science, look at rights, and then make decisions after that.”



      Alan Layton

      Apr 13, 2014 at 8:43am

      In the first paragraph of the article you have written that 58.4% of the participants voted 'yes', but your headline says they rejected it. Typo?

      boris moris

      Apr 13, 2014 at 8:47am

      At what point do the NDP pull their party's head out of Big Labour's ass and do what is right for the environment instead of being patsies for Big Oil with their lucrative construction jobs that will only benefit in the short term?

      richard m

      Apr 13, 2014 at 8:53am

      Enbridge has spend more millions on trying to get this pipeline pushed threw than the kitimat comunity will ever see. after this plebiscite it is obviuos the average person is against it . and for good reasons. it is a bad idea. spend the billions on renewable resources.if big oil and big biz spent half there money on something renewable . we would not need oil. but they are too greddy and cant see the good. they only see the greed. the one percent trying to get richer

      Stephen Hui

      Apr 13, 2014 at 11:21am

      @Alan Layton:

      Thanks. That was definitely a typo. I've fixed it.

      keith cummings

      Apr 13, 2014 at 12:05pm

      yesterday aft a young eagle circled over our house for awhile, very unusual, that was the first sign Enbridge was beaten...then last night while waiting for the Kitimat vote result, I stepped outside took a look for some northern lights, and there was the ISS space station brilliantly passing overhead like the eagle of the daytime. A second sign Enbridge was beaten. Then sure enough, I checked the Kitimat site and there it was, we won!!!! And today is a beautiful warm sunny day, absolutely a beautiful day in BC.


      Apr 13, 2014 at 12:44pm

      A local or provincial referendum has no legal standing in matters of inter-provincial trade. In fact, to deny or approve a inter-provincial project based on the result of such a referendum would be unconstitutional and could be challenged in court.


      Apr 13, 2014 at 7:14pm

      As many historical private enactments show, gasworks are within the regulatory ambit of the province. There may be additional federal regulations, but the ability to conduct this sort of activity in BC hinges on support of the Government, and in British Columbia we have a democracy: if the people don't want a pipeline, there should not be a pipeline. It is safe to say that the majority of people do not want a pipeline. British Columbians want an ecologically sound economy that realizes solid long-term gains, not a boom-bust cycle whereby there are a few years of employment, then reductions, cost-savings, layoffs, etc.


      Apr 13, 2014 at 7:48pm

      It will go to Prince Rupert...No dangerous shipping routes.


      Apr 13, 2014 at 9:36pm

      I think it's already been reported that Prince Rupert and Smithers have said no to Enbridge; I think Kitimat was the only city along the route that hadn't given an opinion one way or the other. The City council said they would let a plebiscite decide on their public position.


      Apr 13, 2014 at 11:58pm

      Lance, it's not just the shipping route that we have to worry about, it'a also about the 1100 kms of pipeline running through mountains. I have lived in Kitimat for 50 years,and through that time I have seen many land slides just in our area (Skeena), and i'm talking about larger ones that would wipe out a pipeline. If the pipeline is broken, it would damage a lot of surface and ground water for Generations.