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From pipelines to mines, energy projects raise questions across B.C.

Aboriginals from British Columbia protest in front of the headquarters of Enbridge before the company's annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, May 11, 2011.

Todd Korol/ Reuters/Todd Korol/ Reuters

What's your price to switch sides on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline? It's a taboo topic in most communities, but in Burns Lake, the subject came up at a village council meeting.

Local resident Donna Brochez said she opposed the pipeline, the Burns Lake District News reported. However, if the pipeline goes through, the community should be prepared with a wish list, Ms. Brochez said. "I am not selling out, but they are a big company with financial backing. It seems we always miss out on great opportunities and I think, as a community, we should figure out what Enbridge can do for us." She said the community needs a new hospital, a community centre and local infrastructure needs to be repaired, the newspaper reported.

"So, if there is not enough money, you are opposed. But if the dollar amount is right, you would switch sides?" Councillor Quentin Beach said.

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Ms. Brochez said, "It is not a certain amount of money I am looking for, I am not selling out at all. It's just an idea, and if this does happen, it would be nice to have our ducks in a row." Councillor John Illes said it was like buying life insurance, the newspaper reported.


It's not a question of money in the debate over the Taseko Mines proposal for a giant copper and gold mine in the Cariboo. The Daily Courier in Vernon says the differences between the company and its critics - first nations, local residents and environmentalists - may be insurmountable. Not enough effort has been put in to trying to bridge the gaps, says an editorial by city editor Pat Bulmer. It appears the company has not learned all the lessons it needed to from its first rejection, the newspaper says. The company should have used the time between its initial rejection and its second bid to try to address concerns of the Tsilhqot'in Nation and others. The Indian band is now going to court. "The band's objection was key to the mine's defeat last time.

Taseko may be hard-pressed to win approval without at least some First Nation support," the paper says.


In northwestern BC, economic benefits for first nations and those who live in the Kitimat-Terrace region are crucial, Ellis Ross, chief councillor of the Haisla Nation in northwestern BC, writes in the Kitimat's Northern Sentinel. Rio Tinto Alcan is investing $300-million as part of a $2.5-billion modernization of the Kitimat smelter and the Haisla are part of a joint venture with LNG Partners in a $3-billion LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility before the National Energy Board.

"It is plain for anyone to see . . . that the Haisla are open to economic development if the conditions are right," he says. The Haisla oppose projects that would wipe out the natural resources or exclude Haila people, he writes. But they welcome jobs, investment and business opportunities.

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Meanwhile in federal politics,

The Daily News in Kamloops urges the federal government to push ahead with export of oil and other natural products to Asia. "It's a troubling economic sign when a Conservative government is having difficulty staying conservative — no matter how hard it tries," the paper says. The Harper government faces difficulties in reaching its goal to pay down the deficit, with an increase of 15 per cent in federal spending since 2009, a $1.6-billion hike in health care spending over the previous year and old-age security payments rising by $1.1-billion.

"Should we be satisfied with, as one economist described the U.S. not so long ago, being the healthiest horse in the glue factory?" the newspaper asks. "The answer, hopefully, is no. . . Canada has something in abundance that many other struggling countries have very little of: natural resources. With talk of increased trade with Asia, exports of oil and other energy products will undoubtedly add to federal coffers, offering the best chance for Canada to dig out of its hole. Asian markets are key, and Harper has already tipped his hand, that Ottawa is headed in that direction. The faster, the better."

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