Good morning. Welcome back to Smithers.
My name is Lynnda McDougall. I currently work at the Smithers Public Library, but since I moved to the Bulkley Valley in 1971 I've been a substitute high school teacher, a bookkeeper and a business owner. I spent 20 years of my career in resource-based industries, through both boom and bust times: first in forestry as a tree-planter, slasher/bucker and a stump to dump logging contractor, then in mining exploration as an office manager/bookkeeper for a diamond drilling firm. For 8 years, I worked with First Nations at the Dze L k'ant Friendship Centre.
Throughout this length of time, and breadth of experience, I have never encountered an issue that has united and galvanized the people of the Pacific Northwest like the threat posed to our livelihood and our very way of life by the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
I am not a scientist, but you will be hearing from many of them, detailing the atrocious assault on our watersheds that a pipeline rupture, or worse yet, an oil tanker spill would deliver.
I am not a scientist, but I am a mother and grandmother and a 41 year resident of this wonderful region and when I look at the map of the pipeline route , memories come flooding back – memories of activities and places I had assumed I would share with my grandchildren, now under threat of degradation and extinction: camping, boating and trout fishing at Owen Lake – spill into the Morice? GONE! Homesteading on the banks of the Bulkley River at Quick and Telkwa, drawing drinking water in buckets from the river, summer and winter; swimming, tubing, rafting from Walcott to Quick – NOT IN
BITUMEN POLLUTED WATER! Swimming lessons at Round Lake with my daughter NOT A CHANCE! A family wedding on the beach at Grey Bay on Haida Gwai? Black tar balls don't enhance white bridal gowns and deformed, toxic seafood doesn't provide a delicious wedding dinner.
I am not an expert, but I do recall a sudden storm in November of 1978 when hurricane force winds blew, and over 10 inches of rain fell on Terrace and area in 2 days. The resulting floods and mudslides devastated the entire NW: 44 washouts on HWY 16 between Hazelton and Terrace alone, bridges gone; CN rail tracks, including a train with 2 crew members from Smithers, swept into the Skeena River; over 6000 acres of timber blown down in the Chapman Lake area alone and the PNG natural gas line ruptured in the Telkwa Pass cutting off the primary heating source to Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert.
This incident is relevant today because it highlights the difficulties in trying to repair infrastructure in rugged terrain, in poor weather and with few transportation options. From Smithers to the west coast, we have ONE road and ONE rail line. When these are impassable or compromised, the only alternative is aircraft. Mountain flying is hazardous at the best of times and inclement weather simply makes it impossible.
In 1978 PNG repair crews were delayed, first because of weather, and then by conditions as described by PNG's sales & service manager of the Terrace district, John Low, in a news story:
“Unless the service is restored Wednesday, the area will find itself without a major source of home heating. Low said the major break in the line occurs about 26 miles upriver from Copper River Bridge on Highway 16. Twelve men - as much as the site can hold - have been flown in by helicopter, and they face the task of building a four inch bypass line 200 feet up a 70 degree slope, across 1000 to 1500 feet on top of the ridge, and back down the slope. Machinery has no access to the area, and Low said the men are
doing all the work by hand. Two welding machines are the only equipment being used on the site.”
It took more than a week to restore natural gas service to tens of thousands of people,and a full two years to rebuild the roads, bridges and rails to the previous state.
These are the conditions facing anyone trying to repair an oil pipeline leak, and then it won't be natural gas dissipating into the air, but heavy, toxic bitumen poisoning our waterways, killing our fish and destroying our environment.
We Northerners are a sceptical lot.
We have seen the results of projects built by those who don't live here or understand the realities of our climate and geography: the beautiful buildings designed by southern architects that are cold and draughty and leak, the mega projects that flood our farmland and dislocate our First Nations.
We don't believe Enbridge's empty promises and smooth assurances – we've talked to the people affected by Enbridge's 2010 spill along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and heard about the slow initial response, subsequent denial of compensation, the reprehensible treatment of claimants and the continued ruination of sections of the river.
We know that under Canadian law, the total liability to Enbridge for an oil tanker spill is a paltry $40 million – the BC taxpayer will be paying the rest of the billions required.
We don't believe the Harper government's argument that this project is in the national interest- at least not OUR nation. China will make out very nicely! Greedy Oil producers, many of them foreign owned and controlled, will reap record profits to be shipped offshore along with the bitumen and Canadian jobs.
The Harper government would have us believe we need the revenue generated by Northern Gateway to pay for our social programs, but we know that eliminating the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to already profitable oil companies would provide that funding.
We are astonished anew, each day, as the Harper Government announces proposed changes to laws that will strip us of our environmental protection and regulatory review processes, including that of this very panel. We urge, no we implore you, as the people of conscience we hope you to be, to join the people of Northern BC in condemning this project.
I am a Northerner, by choice and by temperament. Northerners can be fiercely proud, independent, resilient, responsible, rowdy and resourceful. We have our differences and divisions, but in the face of a common and pervasive threat we will work together to defeat this project. We love this country, it is our home, and we will protect it. We will become the radicals the Harper government accuses us of being: radically informed and radically involved. WE WILL STOP THIS PIPELINE!!