The Conservative Government approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline with 209 conditions last week. Kootenay Columbia MP David Wilks spoke to the Townsman on Thursday after a parliamentary session in Ottawa.
Wilks said the conditions should help to mitigate criticism against the pipeline.
“I don’t know if you can ever keep everyone happy, but the 209 conditions placed upon whomever will build the pipeline, by the National Energy Board are quite stringent,” Wilks said, adding they look at environmental impact and include consultation with aboriginal services.
“It will be a challenge for whoever decides to build this pipeline to get all these conditions done, but if they do they will be conforming to one of the most rigorous standards set in North America.
Wilks said the Kootenay Columbia riding is a shining example of how big industry can work alongside the natural environment.
“If you look throughout the Kootenay Columbia constituency, we have four national parks, we have some very pristine protected areas as well; the Darkwoods near Creston and the Flathead Valley near Fernie,” he said. “On top of that we have the second largest coal-mine company in the world, we have a very good, robust forestry sector, we have some of the largest hydroelectric dams in Canada, and all of those work very well with their neighbouring environment.”
Wilks said the pipeline could have local impacts as well.
“I think there are a number of people in the Kootenays that work in Fort McMurray and the surrounding area that would benefit from the extraction from bitumen from Fort McMurray and area being exported to the Asian markets,” Wilks said.
Wilks didn’t know whether the project, if it goes forward, would have any impact on the local economy.
“Certainly there are companies around that do a lot of steel fabrication like Fabrite and Rayko Steel in Sparwood, but normally they stick to the coal mines,” he said.