Gateway pipeline hearings resume in Bella Bella, B.C.
Confusion over why hearings were delayed
The Northern Gateway pipeline hearings in the remote West Coast community of Bella Bella are expected to get underway at 1 p.m. Tuesday – a day-and-a-half after they were originally scheduled to begin.
Heiltsuk First Nation Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett said the three-member panel has confirmed the hearing will go ahead, but with no indication of how testimony missed on Monday and on Tuesday morning will be heard.
According to Slett, evidence from more than half-a-dozen hereditary chiefs, elders and high-ranking women is affected, and the First Nation is now juggling the speakers list to ensure time for those who have travelled to the tiny central coast village to make a submission.
The first day-and-a-half of four days of hearings were abruptly cancelled late Sunday. Slett said the panel members told her they were unnerved after protesters greeted them at the airport and cancelled the hearings because of security concerns.
But the National Energy Board issued a statement saying the three federal appointees scrubbed the first day of hearings while trying to resolve undisclosed logistical issues.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel is holding public hearings across B.C. and Alberta to gain community input on the proposal to build a crude oil pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast.
Hearings for the pipeline project have drawn protests in many B.C. communities, which are concerned about the risk the pipeline and the associated oil tanker traffic will bring.
On Friday, many B.C. First Nations reacted with anger to the federal government's decision to retroactively shorten the regulatory review for the pipeline project.