The province's energy minister says he will represent the concerns of Ontarians at future hearings into a proposed TransCanada pipeline — but that's not good enough for the Mayor of North Bay.
Al MacDonald said he wants to present directly to the National Energy Board instead of letting the province communicate on his behalf, and will seek standing as an intervener himself.
MacDonald said the proposed Energy East pipeline will run through the northern part of the city, an area that provides all of the city's drinking water. The substance that helps the oil flow — called dilbit — would devastate the watershed if it were to be spilled, he said.
“So unless someone stands up and is willing to take the interests of the city specifically, then I don't believe we'd be well served,” MacDonald said.
“I want to make sure I'm at the table to protect those interests and convey our concerns.”
An energy policy analyst said the provincial energy board generally does a good job of representing everyone.
Richard Carlson said it's not clear if the mayor by himself could influence the National Energy Board in the regulation of the pipeline, but said he should try.
“[It’s] important that all avenues are taken, for and by different communities,” Carlson said.
“While the mayor of North Bay should intervene at the National Energy Board [he should also] ... intervene and talk with the Ontario Energy Board when they do their process as well.”
Hearings for the proposed TransCanada Energy East pipeline are expected to start formally early next year.