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British Columbia Kitimat council prefers refinery plan in rejection of Gateway

Raw bitumen and diluted bitumen are displayed in jars as newspaper publisher David Black speaks about his proposal to build a refinery in Kitimat, B.C., to refine oil from the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, at a 2012 news conference.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Councillors in Kitimat, B.C., have voted to officially oppose the Enbridge Inc. Northern Gateway pipeline project – but they aren't rejecting further plans to move Alberta oil through the region.

A lengthy debate ended Tuesday with councillors voting 4 to 1 in favour of the motion to reject support for Enbridge's $6-billion pipeline proposal.

The vote followed an unofficial plebiscite in the northwestern B.C. municipality that suggested roughly 60 per cent of citizens oppose the pipeline.

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While refusing support for Enbridge, several councillors say newspaper mogul David Black's proposed refinery north of Kitimat is a viable alternative to the plan to pipe Alberta bitumen across B.C. and load it onto tankers for shipment overseas.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff says Black's proposal cuts the risk of a catastrophic spill in the Kitimat River and Douglas Channel while offering the potential of as many as 3,000 direct, ongoing refinery jobs.

Black believes his $26-billion refinery would remove the need to transport diluted bitumen by tanker, but warned Kitimat council last November that some Enbridge partners aren't on board.

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