The province’s municipal leaders have voted to send a letter to the federal transport minister regarding TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project.
The letter from the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) will support the pipeline project.
The decision to send the letter was made by leaders from more than 100 towns and cities in Saskatchewan, and was voted on in a resolution at the SUMA convention last week. The resolution passed almost unanimously.
Well-known journalist and political pundit Chantal Hébert gave a presentation at the SUMA convention last week, and spoke about the pipeline. Moosomin mayor Larry Tomlinson said he was impressed by her presentation.
“It’s the first time she’s seen something not being driven by the premiers, but by the towns, cities and villages,” says Tomlinson. “She says that’s the only way it will move forward. With the premiers bantering back and forth it will make it worse. She says it will need to be driven from the lower levels.”
The vote was done in reaction to recent announcements by the federal government that it would put stricter environmental considerations on pipeline projects.
The review process would impose more steps before pipelines can be built. Government officials said it was done to restore the confidence of Canadians in its regulations.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said the extraction industry is important to growth in Western Canada.
“As long as these pipelines meet regulatory requirements—environmental and otherwise—there’s no need to say ‘no’ to the pipeline to the east,” he said.
“I’m hoping that we’re not adding regulatory changes that are unfair, that are not imposed on other types of pipelines, or other types of environmental reviews.”
Jeff Howe, a councillor from Wawota, was a voting delegate at the SUMA convention. Howe was one of the few councillors to vote against the pipeline resolution. Howe says he was also impressed by Hebert’s presentation, but had a problem with the way the resolution on Energy East was handled.
The resolution was added at the convention to a list of 15 resolutions that had been sent out to councils before the convention.
“No one got any notice of any kind that that was gong to happen,” says Howe. “There was a package that came out ahead of time outlining all of the resolutions that were going to be at the SUMA convention for voting, and the idea was that town councils could discuss the resolutions and come up with their position and then their voting delegates could vote accordingly.
“I and a few other people—not many—voted against it. The reason I voted against it was that we had no advance warning that it was going to be put to a vote.
“I think it was wrong for them to bring it in front of that group with no advance warning. By bringing the motion in as it were, I felt almost ambushed. They took away the ability to consult with my fellow councillors and the ability to consult with my constituents and try to get a sense of whether or not people in town are for or against it.”