Joint Review Panel on Enbridge cuts hearing time

  • May. 30, 2012 2:00 p.m.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel has condensed its scheduled hearings in Old Massett to two days, down from the six days it had planned. The panel said not as many people registered to give 10-minute oral statements as it had anticipated, so not as much time will be needed. The sessions will start Friday afternoon at 1 pm (June 1), going into the evening, and will continue Saturday morning and afternoon, starting at 9 am. The hearings will be held at the Old Massett community hall and are open to the public. The oral statement stage allows people to state their opinions and concerns about the pipeline project without the restrictions that islanders saw during the panel’s first visit here, when intervenors made presentations, some of which were interrupted by Enbridge representatives. North Coast MLA Gary Coons, who will be on island next week and had planned to attend the June 4, 5, and 6 hearings, said he was disappointed but not surprised that the additional days were cancelled. The same thing happened last week in Prince Rupert, where it took only one and a half days for the panel to hear oral statements. “In Rupert, they had 200 people registered and when it came down to it, only about 50 signed up,” Mr. Coons said. “A lot of people have just thrown up their hands and said, what’s the use.” Mr. Coons said many north coast residents have told him they feel there is no longer much point to the panel hearings, since Prime Minister Stephen Harper has clearly indicated his support for the pipeline and made changes to the review process for these types of large projects. Annie Roy, the communications manager for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, told the Observer that the people who had registered to give oral statements to the panel in Old Massett had to schedule a time slot by May 25. Once the deadline passed, organizers looked at how many people wanted to make statements and scheduled it efficiently. The panel is scheduled to hear oral statements in Skidegate between June 13 and 19. People who have registered to give a statement have until June 6 to schedule their time for the Skidegate session. After that, the dates will likely be revised.

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