Roughly 220 people turned out to a public meeting in Saint John on Thursday night to discuss TransCanada Corp.’s proposed west-east pipeline.

The Calgary-based company is proposing to build a $12-billion pipeline project that would move crude oil from the oil sands in western Canada to a new deep water terminal in Saint John.

The project has won the support of national and provincial politicians, but the company still needs to navigate through the regulatory process.

TransCanada Corp. has been holding a series of public meetings in New Brunswick communities that will see the pipeline built nearby.


Saint John citizens had a chance to ask questions about the proposed Energy East pipeline project to staff members with TransCanada Corp. and Irving Oil Ltd. on Thursday. (CBC)

On Thursday, the pipeline company helped explain the Energy East project to Saint John residents. Saint John will be the end of the proposed pipeline.

Several citizens left the event with more questions about the impact the pipeline project will have in the area.

"I'm concerned about safety. I'm concerned about environmental issues. I'm confused that our country seems to be so desperately pursuing fossil fuel. I don't understand," said Kathy McNulty, a Saint John resident.

There were also more local questions, such as the impact of the proposed $300-million deep water marine terminal that will be built by TransCanada and Irving Oil Ltd.

Dave Thompson, a director with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick Action, said he wanted to know about the impact of increased vessel and tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy.

As well, he asked about the implications for the local fishing industry and marine mammals.

A project manager with Irving Oil Ltd. says the company will analyze the current and future traffic in the Bay of Fundy to identify potential problems and prevent them.

There were also supporters of the pipeline project, who showed up on Thursday to get more answers from TransCanada.

Ralph Wood, a shareholder of TransCanada and a former oil industry worker, said he believes the project is in the best interests of the province.

But he was looking for answers to specific questions.

"Where the pipe crosses watercourses, marsh lands and environmentally sensitive areas, I was interested in how they were going to monitor it," he said.

Oil could flow to N.B. in 2018 

TransCanada is proposing to convert roughly 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline on its existing Canadian Mainline route so it can carry crude oil.

The company would also construct 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline to carry crude oil into Saint John, where it will end at the Canaport LNG terminal.

The company said it would start seeking regulatory approvals on the pipeline in 2014, and the oil could start flowing to Eastern Canada by late 2017 in Quebec and 2018 in New Brunswick.

The National Energy Board is responsible for approving pipelines.

Thursday’s meeting is the last in August, but the company has additional sessions planned for September in Stanley, Hampton and Chipman.

The format of the meetings was criticized by McNulty, who said she was hoping for a more traditional town hall-style meeting.

"There's no give and take between us and the employees. I felt really managed by the company. And I mean that in the least complimentary way," she said.

Phillip Cannon, a representative from TransCanada, defended the meeting’s structure and said the open house-style format is better.

"It also gives the chance for people to go more in-depth with their questions in regards to safety, they can go and see the safety expert," he said.