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Energy East pipeline would cut through Baxter Conservation Area

Baxter Conservation Area. Still from RVCA video.
Photo: Baxter Conservation Area. Still from RVCA video.

TransCanada wants its 1.1 million barrels-per-day Energy East pipeline to pass through the Baxter Conservation Area, which is located about 50 kilometres south of Parliament Hill.

The Ottawa Citizen reports, “Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt revealed the new information about the route to the Citizen on Wednesday ahead of a planned public consultation session on Thursday night in North Gower. …The ‘conceptual’ route map shows the pipeline routed east near Hwy. 7, through the former municipality of Richmond, then south near Malakoff Road in North Gower. From there it will transport oil through environmentally sensitive lands around the Rideau River before passing across the waterway near the Baxter Conservation Area, according to Moffatt. The conservation area, which is on the Rideau River and contains a beach and hiking trails, is a popular spot for residents of the south end of Ottawa.”

The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority web-page for the Baxter Conservation Area says, “(Baxter is) 68 hectares of outdoor fun! Follow over five kilometres of trails through wetlands, conifer plantations, mixed forest, alder thickets, nut groves and a solar energy display. The trails are perfect for hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Enjoy a peaceful view of the scenic Rideau River from the trail or splash and play at the sandy beach.”

There has been no comment yet from the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, but it’s website notes, “The RVCA helps improve the quality of water in our streams, lakes, rivers and groundwater reserves. By learning more about our watershed, we can plan and work towards common goals. …We know that a safe and sustainable water supply is crucial to the economic growth and social well being in the Rideau Watershed. Source Water Protection Planning will help eliminate past, current and future threat to our drinking water sources.It’s our job, in partnership with government and non-government groups, to make sure that the water is looked after by everyone today so that tomorrow’s generations inherit a clean, healthy and functioning watershed.”

The Ottawa Citizen report adds, “The pipeline will continue southeast through North Grenville, a neighbouring municipality that includes Kemptville.” Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be speaking against the Energy East pipeline at a public forum in North Grenville this coming Tuesday April 15. For more on that, please click here.

TransCanada’s so-called ‘open house’ will take place from 4 pm to 8 pm tonight at the Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre, 2300 Community Way, off 4th Line Road, in North Gower. These open houses have been described as ‘ridiculously misleading’.

BayToday reports, “TransCanada held its second set of open house meetings for its Energy East Pipeline project on Tuesday evening at the Best Western (in North Bay)… Approximately 15-20 concerned citizens showed up at the open house dressed as water droplets to make sure that their concerns were being publicized in the hopes of educating and avoiding any negative environmental impacts in the city. When asked to explain why the determined yet peaceful protestors were dressed as they were, Yan Roberts, a concerned citizen, replied in a written statement to Baytoday that it was in part to ‘highlight the ridiculousness of TransCanada shoving their risky Energy East Pipeline through North Bay’s drinking water—and to highlight how ridiculously misleading the TransCanada Open House community consultations are—North Bay folks got a little ridiculous themselves and crashed the open house dressed as water drops.'”

There are also Ontario Energy Board consultations taking place now. The Nugget reports, “Almost every speaker at Wednesday’s community consultation meeting on the Energy East Pipeline project stressed the importance of protecting North Bay’s sole drinking water supply. …Mayor Al McDonald led the charge, stressing council’s primary concern is to ensure Trout Lake is fully protected from a pipeline spill or leak. McDonald said if the water filtration plant is shut down due to contamination entering Trout Lake, the city could run out of water within six hours.”

And yesterday, CBC reported, “Fears about an oil spill were top of mind at an (Ontario Energy Board) public hearing in Timmins last night on the proposed Energy East pipeline…” Amrose Raftis of the Temiskaming Environmental Action Committee pointed to the dangers of the pipeline. “Edmond Etherington of Moose Cree First Nation said he fears that, if a natural gas pipeline along Highway 11 is converted to oil, that one day a spill in the south will make its way to the far north. ‘It’ll cross every major river that leads to the James Bay Coast. We live at the end of the river. So, we’re going to get all the garbage’, he said. ‘I’m telling you right now: expect resistance.'”

The Council of Canadians has been encouraging its supporters to attend these OEB consultations and voice their concerns about the pipeline.

Last night, Council of Canadians climate and energy campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue spoke at a public forum of about 100 people in Smiths Falls, which is located about 80 kilometres south of Ottawa. Joining her were Ben Powless from Ecology Ottawa, as well as a local hydrologist and Queen’s University professor. Harden-Donahue, Council of Canadians organizer Mark Calzavara, and South Niagara chapter activist Fiona McMurran will be meeting with Ontario’s environment minister in Toronto later today to highlight their concerns about the Energy East pipeline. More on that soon.