Saint John city council discussed the Energy East pipeline proposal last night. Photo by Jericho Knopp/CBC.
Red Head community resident (and Council of Canadians Saint John chapter activist) Lynaya Astephen was not able to get into a Saint John city council meeting about the Energy East pipeline yesterday evening. While she arrived 15 minutes before the 6 pm city council meeting, there are reports that Energy East pipeline supporters were encouraged to be there at 5 pm to fill all the available seats.
CBC reports, “Saint John residents crammed inside city hall for a four-hour council meeting where the new councillors explored the benefits of the proposed Energy East pipeline, weighed possible changes to the new taxi bylaw and heard about a potential ‘bold’ tax cut plan. …The lengthy meeting included presentations by several groups, but the majority of citizens packed inside the chambers to hear TransCanada Corp. representatives discuss the Energy East pipeline project.”
The news article adds, “There was standing room only at the beginning of the meeting for the Energy East discussion. A queue of people formed outside the door with those interested to hear what the Energy East representatives had to tell the newly elected councillors. Louis Bergeron, the vice president responsible for New Brunswick and Quebec for Energy East, highlighted a number of facts that the city had often heard, including the hiring of Saint John labour, the possibility for permanent workers and the potential of environmental impacts. When the presentation ended and the councillors had asked their questions, the room quickly cleared out, with only half the spectators staying for the rest of the meeting.”
Astephen has now written the mayor and city council stating, “I wanted to write to express my disappointment in not being allowed inside council chambers last night. I had looked at the agenda in the afternoon and saw that the letter to present to city council was one of the first items on the agenda. I wanted to be there to hear the discussion surrounding that and also as a resident who is located next to the proposed end terminal of Energy East I wanted to hear the presentation from TransCanada.”
She adds, “To get to the council meeting, I had to request to get off early from my job. I am an engaged citizen in our democratic system, for my age group I know that isn’t very common nowadays. When I arrived at 5:45 pm there was a crowd of people at the door waiting to get inside and weren’t able to get in. I knocked on the door to say I was first on the agenda and police officers told me that you were not allowing anymore people inside. A woman with a clip board told me I wasn’t allowed inside.”
And Astephen concludes, “I should have been allowed inside, I wasn’t the only one from Red Head or there was other citizens who had major concerns who wanted to be present. I stayed last night until the very end of the council meeting, it was a very late night for all present. I will continue to be engaged in this process despite what happened as I don’t want to part of the population who is disenfranchised from the political system.”
Some of the questions the Saint John chapter has for city council include:
Is the proposed location of the tank farm too close to the residential community of Red Head? Will this put both firefighters and residents at greater risk and in harm’s way?
How will first responders be able to quickly evacuate the population of Anthony’s Cove Road – with only one way out – in the event of a spill or fire at the Red Head tank farm or marine terminal?
How much money will there be for compensation of fisherman, whale-watch operators, and other tourism employees directly affected by an oil spill?
For more on our campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.