According to Village of Burns Lake Coun. Eileen Benedict, a recent Enbridge community advisory board (CAB) meeting was an educational experience, for more reasons that one.
Councillor Benedict reported to mayor and council last week that during the meeting, which was held in Richmond, Burns Lake kept coming up in the conversation.
“None of it was good stuff and it was very disturbing to hear,” she said.
She later said to Lakes District News that past events with the Burns Lake Band were brought up during an Aboriginal engagement panel at the CAB.
“People remember the bad things but they always forget the good,” she said to council, adding that times have changed and both the village and the Burns Lake Band have moved on since then.
Councillor Benedict was referring to the 1999 Village of Burns Lake decision to shut off water and sewer services to the Burns Lake Band.
The dispute erupted because the municipality had requested the Burns Lake Band pay $400,000 for water and sewer services. As there was 20 homes involved in the dispute, the band were asked to pay $20,000 per house, per year for municipal services.
Just this year the Burns Lake Band and the Village of Burns Lake worked together to come to a historical agreement by signing the first ever full service agreement between the two parties.
Previously the band and the village have held only a partial service agreement.
“At the CAB meeting they were very focussed on past bad things,” Coun. Benedict said.
“We do have a history, but we have taken huge steps over the last few years and now have a full service agreement signed. We want to provide service to all residents.”
“I don’t want to put down past history, but people that were speaking don’t live in Burns Lake. They had heard the history but not what has happened since.”
Benedict said that she stood up and spoke on behalf of the village and cleared the matter up.
“I told them that we have moved on and that good things have happened. It was quite negative so I told them this is not the way we operate.”
Councillor Benedict said she was originally skeptical about attending the meeting because it was being held in Richmond rather than in the North, but that some good information regarding the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project was presented.
“I have been attending CAB meetings for about two years. The others have been held in the North and it felt closer to the project, I thought why Richmond? But it was explained that it was the easiest place to get to because it is close to the airport for speakers. Some people were there from Alberta as well as smaller communities who already have pipelines going through them. A lot of different groups attended from all over.”
One of the meeting’s attendees was Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace.
Councillor Benedict said, some of what Dr. Moore had to say during the meeting was informative and made her think.
“He presented an interesting and enlightening take. He said he doesn’t believe that we can stop development and we can not grind everything to a halt. He said he does want to protect the environment but he asked us are we ready to get out of our vehicles and stop using our cell phones? He said we need to find a better way to fuel our vehicles but a better way has not been discovered yet …. it really made me stop and think. I drive and without pipelines and gas I wouldn’t be able to do that,” she said.
Dr. Moore’s environmental ethics have come under fire by Greenpeace since he left the organization in 1986.
He has been labelled an environmental turncoat by numerous environmental organizations, most notably Greenpeace.
He left the organization saying that they had become an anti-intellectual environment in which questions were not able to be asked. In a statement about Dr. Moore, released by Greenpeace U.S., the organization says that Dr. Moore often misrepresents himself as an environmental expert or an environmentalist while offering anti-environmental opinions on a wide range of issues.
In the statement which can be viewed at www.greenpeace.org/usa, Greenpeace say, “By exploiting his former ties to Greenpeace, Dr. Moore portrays himself as a prodigal son who has seen the error of his ways. Unfortunately the media give him a platform for his views and often do so without mentioning the fact that he is a paid spokesperson for polluting companies.”
According to Greenpeace, Moore has since promoted clear cut logging, nuclear power, salmon farming, vinyl production, genetically engineered crops and mining since leaving the organization and forming his ‘Greenspirit’ consulting company in 1991.
When Lakes District News asked Enbridge Northern Gateway if Dr. Moore was paid by the company to attend the meeting, the response was yes.
“We pay the costs of administration and speakers such as Patrick Moore,” said Paul Stanway, Enbridge’s media spokesperson.
He went on to say that Enbridge fund the CAB meetings, but that CAB members own the process and are composed of a wide range of independent stakeholders and interested parties. “They set their own agendas and have provided valuable input on the project,” he said.
In an article published on April 6, 2011 in the Petroleum Economist [which can be viewed at www.petroleumeconomist.com] Dr. Moore says he believes that it has become fashionable for activists to focus on the oil sands.
He goes on to say that local residents and First Nations [in Alberta] benefit from the oil sands and that calling the oil sands the ‘tar sands’ is misleading information pedaled by oil sands opponents.
In the article, Dr. Moore says that tar sounds worse than oil and he goes on to say that there is no tar in the oil sands.
He also says that developers are leaving the oil sands cleaner than when they found it by extracting the oil.
Councillor Benedict said she was also aware that Enbridge funds speakers to attend the CAB meetings.
“CAB members choose the topics and Enbridge brings in the speakers,” she said.
Also speaking at the meeting was marine shipping Capt. Jerry Asplin who was flown in for the meeting from the U.S.
Councillor Benedict said he discussed international shipping regulations and presented a power point on double hulled tankers.
“It was enlightening.”
“We need more information like this coming to the local community. We hear a lot of information about the environment and water but we don’t have a lot of facts on how pipelines are built. I think most of the spills that are occurring now are from the old systems … pipelines that were built 30 years ago. I think I would be useful if we could bring experts to any meetings held in Burns Lake so that locals could hear the information and have their questions answered by professionals.”