A Calgary councillor wants city council to stand up for Alberta’s energy industry.
Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas has submitted a notice of motion that would call on Calgary city council to formally declare support for the creation of pipelines and to defend the energy industry.
“Never have we formally recognized the fact that Calgarians are in crisis as, say, the provincial and federal government has so I want to see Calgary city council acknowledge that crisis situation.” Farkas told reporters. “After formally adopting a pro-pipeline position, seeing how we can aid in the fight.”
Farkas hopes to explore multiple options, including working with other orders of government, the energy industry and advocacy groups. The motion also directs administration to develop a strategy for the city to advocate for improved market access, including legal and policy options, as well as education and communication by using city facilities and vehicles.
“We need to better assert ourselves, we need to defend Calgarians interests and we need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with every level of government,” Farkas said.
The motion comes over a week after Farkas pushed for a five-per-cent spending cut to all non-essential services during budget deliberations; that motion was defeated with 13 votes against and only one vote in support.
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Alberta’s energy minister didn’t say much when asked about the motion but said she welcomes people actively trying to support the province’s oil industry.
“I always ask people, ‘please support us within your area of influence,'” Marg McCuaig-Boyd said. “This is something that isn’t about us or about Calgary, it’s about all of us in Canada supporting our most important energy industry and all the jobs that it brings.”
The motion raises the question of what role municipalities should play in the pipeline debate.
Farkas points to municipalities like Burnaby, B.C., which took legal action against pipelines. Burnaby attempted to block a section of the Trans Mountain pipeline — which is planned to stretch 1,150 kilometres from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby — that would have run through the community.
Though the planned pipeline is nowhere near Calgary city limits, Farkas believes the city does has some power in the Trans Mountain debate, and his motion includes a call for council to prohibit municipal funding for groups advocating against pipelines.
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, $300,000 was given by the City of Calgary to the non-profit think tank Pembina Institute, which focuses on energy, and the city has also funded a Leap Manifesto workshop in the past.
“If we can’t support Calgarians on this pipeline issue, I think the least we could do is cause no further harm,” Farkas said. “I’ll be calling for further prohibition for any city money being spent on anti-oil and gas advocacy efforts.”
The motion will be discussed at council on Dec 17.