PARKSVILLE — BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins says the Northern Gateway pipeline project is important to British Columbia and should go ahead — but that doesn’t mean he would give it blanket approval.
In an interview in Parksville on Saturday, Cummins said he sees the pipeline as a good idea.
“It will get British Columbian resources to the world market,” he said. “We will earn more for our resources. Those pipelines are important to the economy of Canada and of British Columbia.”
Cummins took premier Christy Clark to task for not expressing support for the Northern Gateway project, waiting instead to hear the results of an environmental review.
“Our view is that this is good for British Columbia,” he said. “There is a huge number of jobs in the construction phase, and Lord knows, we can use those jobs. As well, there will be ongoing benefits to British Columbia afterwards.”
However, he stressed he would like to see a negotiation to garner increased benefits for British Columbians.
“We should be trying to negotiate some increased benefits from the pipeline, when possible,” he said. “I think government has to approach these prjocts and work with industry and let industry know it supports them, whether it be a pipeline or a mine. Those folks have to know this government believes these are important for B.C., providing wealth for people and providing tax dollars for the province.”
Cummins stressed he wants to see the number of people involved in the environmental review increased, setting up additional panels to deal with the huge number of intervenors lining up to say their piece.
“The process has to be done in an expeditious manner,” he said. “We think the environmental review process should have more than one panel sitting. We should have multiple panels so we can get through the 4,000-plus intervenors in a quicker fashion so the panel can move ahead and come up with its report. When that report is issued, the onus is on the company to indicate how they are going to respond to the issues raised.”
That response, he said, will be key to the project’s future.
“The government has to take a look at the mitigation efforts by the company to address the environmental risks and assess whether the mitigation is satisfactory to British Columbians,” he said. “We think this is good for Canada nad we are willing to work with industry to make it happen, but we are not giving blanket approval. That would be contingent upon the industry appropriately addressing any of the environmental risks identified by the panel.”