Sarah Harmer has had a voice through five solo albums and numerous live shows. Now, she's hoping she'll have one with the National Energy Board (NEB).
One hundred and seventy-seven citizens, organizations and municipalities have applied to take part in hearings about Enbridge's plan to reverse the oil flow of line 9B, which runs from Montreal to Westover near Hamilton. Harmer is one of them.
The pipeline runs through Flamborough and the Harmer family farm on Mount Nemo. It also runs through a wetland near Harmer's home north of Kingston.
The musician says this is her first time applying to the NEB for intervenor status, so she's not sure what to expect. She applied under the NEB's new, more restrictive rules that gave interested parties two weeks to submit a lengthy application and resume for consideration.
The closing date was April 19 and the NEB hasn't notified applicants of whether they have been chosen. The NEB is reviewing the applications and should release its decision by the end of the month, said communications officer Carole Léger-Kubeczek.
Harmer has already fought a battle against Nelson Aggregate over a Burlington-area quarry. She worries about the environmental impact of a potential Enbridge spill, which she sees as inevitable.
"(The pipeline) goes through all these provincially significant areas, right through the heart of southern Ontario," she said.
"It seems like it's not a matter of if a rupture will happen. It's just where and when."
Harmer joins a number of current and former McMaster professors, as well as environmental activists from Hamilton and across Ontario. The cities of Hamilton, Burlington, Kingston, Toronto, Mississauga have also applied.
Some have applied to submit written comments. Others, such as Harmer, have applied for intervenor status, which means they can participate in the hearing by presenting evidence, questioning witnesses and giving final arguments.
"I'm sure there are lots of people who have important evidence to bring to the NEB on this," she said. "I'm just going to be one voice in that choir."
Citizen group Hamilton 350 has also applied to participate.
"Even though we don't have much faith in the process, we're still using the channel available to us," volunteer Elysia Petrone said.
"We'll be interested to see who will be let in and who won't."