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Protestors gathered on Kitsilano Beach hold up their hands to show their opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline and the use of oil tankers in local waters in Vancouver, British Columbia June 3, 2012.ANDY CLARK/Reuters

A new poll highlights the growing divide between British Columbians and Albertans when it comes to the proposed Northern Gateway project.

The Abacus Data poll found residents of the country's two westernmost provinces "are more divided on the issue than ever before." Support for the pipeline is highest in Alberta, at 63 per cent, while opposition is strongest in B.C., at 56 per cent.

Federally, support for Enbridge's $6-billion twin pipelines that would run from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., has dropped seven per cent since January.

"Albertans believe the rest of Canada benefits from their energy resources and strongly support the Northern Gateway pipeline to help get that resource to new markets," the poll said.

"British Columbians are less convinced that other Canadians benefit from the oil sands and strongly oppose the pipeline running through their province."

The situation, the poll said, could be a headache for the federal Conservatives, since one part of its base so strongly disagrees with the other.

Last month, B.C. Premier Christy Clark's Liberal government announced five conditions – including a larger chunk of revenue – would have to be met for Northern Gateway to proceed.

The poll found 71 per cent of Canadians believed Ms. Clark was right in making the revenue demand, since B.C. is assuming most of the risk for oil spills and environmental damage.

Sixty-six per cent of Albertans believed Ms. Clark was wrong. Eighty-five per cent of respondents in B.C. agreed with her position.

The pipeline would generate an estimated $81-billion in tax revenue over 30 years, about $6.7-billion for B.C., $36-billion for Ottawa and $32-billion for Alberta.

In a quarterly update posted directly on the government's website this morning, Ms. Clark says she understands the pipeline is a big economic opportunity for Canada – but she says the risks outweigh the rewards for B.C.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford has said B.C. will not be getting any share of Alberta's revenues, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said his government will not discuss "hypothetical" revenues from a project that has yet to be approved.

The online survey was conducted from August 10-12 and had 2,099 respondents. Abacus Data said people were invited to participate from a "representative panel of over 150,000 Canadians."

"Since the online survey was not a random, probability-based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated," the poll said. "The margin of error for a survey of 2,099 respondents using a probability sample is +/– 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20."

With a report from Canadian Press

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