TransCanada pipeline meeting draws hundreds in Hampton

Hundreds of people from Kings County poured into a church basement in Hampton on Tuesday night to find out more about TransCanada Corp.'s proposed west-east pipeline.

Many of the people CBC News spoke to say the province needs the jobs the project would bring

Hundreds of people from Kings County poured into a church basement in Hampton on Tuesday night to find out more about TransCanada Corp.'s proposed west-east pipeline.

The company is holding a series of public meetings in communities across the province to provide information and answer questions about the estimated $12-billion project.

If approved, the line would travel near Hampton on its way to a marine terminal at Saint John's Canaport.

Many of the people at the meeting, such as Ariel Laird,  wanted to know the exact route of the proposed pipeline.

Laird, who was told the line may or may not cross a woodlot she owns at the edge of town, has questions about what it would do to her property. But she's not opposed to the pipeline itself, she said.

"We need jobs desperately. So if it's not going to be too damaging to the environment then I think we need it," said Laird.

"Even though they are short-term jobs, at least they are some kind of jobs. My son had to go to Fort McMurray because there's no work here."

An economic analysis released by TransCanada earlier on Tuesday found the pipeline could create 10,000 jobs across the country and generate $10 billion in additional GDP during the six-year development and construction phase.

The project could generate an additional $25.3 billion in GDP during its estimated 40 years of operation and sustain 1,000 direct full-time jobs, the independent report prepared by Deloitte & Touche found.

New Brunswick would see 332 direct jobs during development and 1,095 direct jobs during construction, according to the report. When the consultant looked at indirect jobs and induced jobs, those numbers grew to 868 and 2,866 jobs for the province.

During the 40-year operations phase, the pipeline would mean 121 direct jobs for the province, the report found.

Style of meetings criticized

"I really want to see this thing go through," said Hampton resident Walter Meech.

"Economics for this region. I think it's going to open up probably a good commercial channel for other things to happen in this area," he said.

Barry Kilpatrick, who arrived with a list of questions, also left satisfied the project is good for New Brunswick.

"I think we need the oil and we need the energy and we need the work. It will create jobs. For all those reasons," he said.

Sharon Murphy, of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, contends the meeting should have been a town-hall style, where attendees can hear their neighbours' concerns, rather than an open house, which she described as "the lowest form of public consultation."

"No one is talking to each other, no one's hearing their questions and answers, there's mass confusion and people are generally feeling unempowered, which is exactly the purpose of a public meeting — to see what everybody has to say, to hear all of the questions, all of the answers. We're not getting that," Murphy said.

"No information shared, just the propaganda, which is a shame," she said.

"As a matter of fact I heard from several people that they thought it was a done deal … when actually they haven't even started the formal consultations where we all can participate and have our say and decide together whether or not we want this pipeline."

The Energy East pipeline project, which still needs regulatory approval, would send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.

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.

It 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 final two open houses are scheduled for Chipman on Wednesday night and Stanley on Thursday.