The Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter


Energy East Community Meeting at SNAC

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on October 21, 2016 at 12:45 AM

Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter helped to organize an October 20 community meeting for St Norbert residents concerned about the TransCanada's Energy East (EE) pipeline.

The LaSalle River runs through St Norbert

The session was offered as a way for St Norbert Arts Centre (SNAC) to engage community members in preparation for the centre’s Intervenor work in the National Energy Board hearings on EE. It’s important for SNAC to understand how their community members see the pipeline, and to provide information on the process and on the pipeline itself.

Many in the area recall the 1996 explosion of a natural gas pipeline that destroyed a house 175 metres away. The explosion occurred where the pipeline crosses under the LaSalle River, and was in part due to the instability of the slope. There are still strong concerns over the safety of that pipeline, and residents want to know how the conversion from gas to dilbit will affect them.

Others are worried about the water supply. The pipeline travels near the Winnipeg aqueduct for 100 kilometres from Shoal Lake to St Anne, and poses a threat to Winnipeg’s drinking water. However, it also crosses the Red River as well as the LaSalle River, and a leak on either of these rivers would poison water that is regularly used for agriculture, fishing, and recreational activities.

Several people had questions on the need for the pipeline, leading to a discussion about transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy. Some residents in the semi-rural area are already adding solar panels and windmills, and believe that if Canada put money into green energy development instead of fossil fuels, new pipelines would be completely unnecessary.

Others weren’t sure that the pipeline was expendable, but were opposed to the current route. They felt that the risk of a dilbit pipeline passing through or near their gardens and waterways would be far too great. No one at the meeting expressed satisfaction with the Energy East pipeline proposal.

A retired man spoke up when he heard that one of the presenters had walked through the swamp area where the pipeline and aqueduct run close together. He said that he’d worked on the pipeline when it was first built.

“I’ve worked there. You just walk and that swamp is moving 1 to 2 feet. When they were building, they lost 7 cats into the bog.”

Someone asked how it ever got built under those circumstances. “First of all, we riprapped as much as we could,” he said, “then we had to yoyo it in.”

The NEB hearings are on hold right now, after the three panel members had to recuse themselves because of bias. In the meantime, SNAC and other Intervenors are taking the extra time to more fully explore the concerns that first brought them to the table.

The Manitoba Intervenors are coming together to identify some common concerns. Aurora Farm, retired biophysicist Dennis LeNeveu, Falcon Trails Resort, and SNAC are working with environmental lawyer Doug Tingey, and the group is collaborating with other Intervenors here in Manitoba and across Canada. Both Dennis and Doug are Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter members, and other chapter members are helping to support this initiative.

Winnipeg Sun Article “Pipeline runs through it” By Jim Bender October 19, 2016

CBC News "Riverbank pipeline route may be unstable, St. Norbert advocates say" October 21, 2016

Winnipeg Free Press Article "Fear of Energy East pipeline runs high among project opponents at community meeting" October 20, 2016

Categories: No Energy East Pipeline

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