Councillors need to support First Nations in their fight.
This, said local resident Chris Paulson, could be done if mayor and council choose not to support the proposed Northern Gateway twin pipeline project.
Paulson, who spoke as a delegation at last week’s village council meeting, said that he is part of a newly formed local group called the Lakes District Clean Waters Coalition.
He said he has heard that mayor and council are yet to make a decision regarding the pipeline project and that he feels they should support local First Nations groups in their stance against the pipeline.
“The regional district is on the summit of two major watersheds,” he said adding that an oil spill in the area would have devastating results.
“Enbridge are not going to protect our watersheds if there is a spill,” Paulson said to council.
He went on to say that First Nations groups are saying no to Enbridge in the face of millions of dollars [being offered to them]. “We need to align the settler communities with the First Nations stance,” he declared.
Paulson said that despite First Nations communities facing huge social problems such as substance abuse and poverty they still say no.
“Why are they saying no? First Nations with all their poverty are turning down billions of dollars …. they must know something we don’t,” he declared.
According to Paulson, the worlds oceans are now at a tipping point. “The oceans are dying,” he said.
“Oceans are too expensive to protect. Society is dumping all of their garbage into the oceans.”
“Bees are too expensive to protect,” Paulson said, adding that cell phone waves are interrupting the flight path of bees so that they are no longer able to find their way back home.
“Bees are getting lost and are not getting back home again …. how are we going to protect the bees? I love this [his] cell phone …. bees are too expensive to protect.”
“People are too expensive to protect. People are dying of cancer at an unprecedented rate. People are too expensive for the oil sands to protect.”
Paulson continued, “Trees are too expensive to protect. Not too long ago the government were talking about barren lands because of the mountain pine beetle. Once you have barren land it is no longer considered forest land and it is easier to put in pipelines,” he said.
“Athabasca Lake is done. The fish [in the lake] are deformed,” he said.
Paulson also said that salmon are also too expensive for corporations to protect.
He said to council that it is all part of ‘economics 101’ whereby the recovery costs of the oil sands are going to cost more than what any corporation is going to make from them.
“I want mayor and council to take a stand and support First Nations people. First Nations will not be going to survive without water and land,” he said, adding that coastal First Nations groups are particularly at risk if there is an oil spill at sea.
“An Enbridge pipeline has already destroyed an entire watershed. We are looking like idiots. Canada has got a big black mark against it. We are going against the human race by supporting a project that is killing people.”
“What would it take to get mayor and council to support the First Nations stance?” he questioned.
Councillor Quentin Beach said to Paulson that the Village of Burns Lake was part of two significant motions that were recently passed by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) that said not to support tanker traffic or the proposed pipeline project.
“All municipalities in the province come together [at UBCM], you can’t get any higher than that for us,” he said.
“The word on the street is that council is sitting on the fence. I know it is not your decision whether we have a pipeline or not, but the pipeline is going right through your village. While you are sitting on the fence everyone is waiting for a decision,” Paulson replied.
Mayor Bernice Magee said that while not all municipalities voted no to tanker traffic and the pipeline at UBCM, it was a majority vote.
“We have not yet had a council discussion [about the pipeline] we are waiting to see what happens with the joint review process,” she said.
Mayor Magee went on to say that when it comes time, council will have an unbiased discussion. “We just haven’t brought it up yet,” she said, adding that both she and the councillors have been attending meetings and gathering information about the project.
Stephanie Beerling deputy director of corporate services for the village added that the Village of Burns Lake have now registered to participate in the joint review process with intervenor status.
“This will allow us to make presentations and read all the documents,” Coun. John Illes explained.
He went on to say, “None of the First Nations have approached the Village of Burns Lake so we don’t know their stance [regarding the project].”
Councillor Luke Strimbold said he remembered reading somewhere that Lake Babine Nation has not yet made a decision about the project. “You mentioned First Nations … but what about the rest of the community?” Coun. Strimbold asked.
“The First Nations are carrying the whole weight of the fight,” answered Paulson. “The tar sands is all about lies up front,” he added.
“It is all a matter of opinion,” said mayor Magee.
Paulson added, “I know that there are lawsuits coming against politicians who will be liable for it [saying yes to the pipeline]. It is not just my opinion ….. I have researched it,” Paulson added.