FREDERICTON – Environmental questions dominated a meeting with TransCanada representatives at the Fredericton Convention Centre Tuesday morning.
Kevin Maloney, the Manager of New Build Pipelines for Alberta and New Brunswick, was there to talk about how the proposed Energy East pipeline might create jobs in the capital region.
But some audience members had other questions.
“There’s all kinds of information that comes to us. Researched information that comes to us regarding pipeline spills,” said Maggie Connell. “They do leak. It’s not a question of will they leak, it’s when will they leak?”
Connell, with Fredericton’s Council of Canadians, also asked where a spill in the Nashwaak River would end up.
“We have never had a failure in a watercourse crossing. Ever,” Maloney said.
This discussion is part of the reason TransCanada has previously said they did not want to host an open house meeting in Fredericton. The proposed pipeline route does not run through the city, and they found “debate style” meetings to be unproductive.
“Generally speaking, we find they get very emotional and chaotic, and it’s a difficult place to get information across to people about the project,” said Tim Duboyce, communications specialist with TransCanada.
“There are other opponents to the project who aren’t looking for answers, and frankly don’t really ask questions.
“They ask rhetorical questions, but they’re not really against pipeline, they’re against oil.”
Despite the attempts to get the questions back to on the business track, audience members like Jonathan Richardson continued to ask questions about public consultation.
“Regardless if these town hall meetings are vulgar or not, it’s their responsibility to consult with the people, because at the end of the day it’s the people that matter the most in this project,” said Richardson.
TransCanada has met with 17 communities so far on the pipeline route, and had hundreds of meetings with landowners. They say they have been transparent throughout the process. The current schedule has the Energy East pipeline ready to operate in late 2018.
“Pipelines are the best alternative,” said Doboyce. “They’re better than any alternative that we’ve got, they’re better than the status quo. And that’s the real point we’re trying to make.”