Belledune oil terminal project faces opposition in Quebec
The promise of permanent jobs has created support for the project in New Brunswick
While job-starved northern New Brunswick has welcomed the idea of a new oil terminal project at the Port of Belledune, an opposition movement is growing in Quebec, especially in communities lining the shared Bay of Chaleur and Matapedia Valley.
Critics see a high-risk scenario, with nothing in it for them but the railcars of Alberta oil travelling through their towns.
Maude Prud'homme lives in the Bay of Chaleur and runs an activist group called Tache d'Huile, which is against oil extraction and transport. The group tries to preserve the way of life in coastal communities focused on fishing, swimming and tourism.
Chaleur Terminals has plans to transport 220 railcars full of Alberta oil everyday to Belledune for marine export.
"The best thing we can hope for is that it will not explode on the way and that it will not spill in a river, many salmon rivers, a whole bunch of communities, so that's the best things we can hope [for], none of these hundreds of wagons a day will do that, for years," she said.
Tache d'Huile has been making noise, holding meetings from Montreal to the Matapedia Valley.
Prud'Homme says so far, 22 municipalities have voiced opposition, including Amqui.
"No risk doesn't exist. And more and more traffic means more and more percentage of possible disaster. When will it happen? Along the Matapedia River? If it does happen, it can kill one of the best salmon rivers in the world. It can kill people too," said Gaetan Ruest, the town's mayor.
Local politicians in New Brunswick have welcomed the project, with its promise of 200 jobs during construction next years and 40 permanent jobs after that.