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.”