Victoria mayor to tour Alberta oilsands project

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. City of Victoria

The Mayor of Victoria has taken up an invitation from a member of Calgary city council to visit the oil sands near Fort McMurray at the end of April.

Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland had gone on social media and put together a video inviting members of Victoria city council to come to Alberta and see firsthand how the province develops it’s oil and gas resources.

The invitation came as the council in B.C.’s capital endorsed a class action lawsuit seeking compensation from oil companies claiming their actions are damaging the environment.

Sutherland said the idea is to advocate and educate, not criticize.

“When you start going after people, anybody gets defensive and you normally put up a wall,” the Ward 1 councillor said. “If you’re there for education, sometimes you say, ‘I didn’t know that.'”

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When presented with a number of options, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps chose a tour of a steam-assisted gravity drainage oilsands project. It uses recycled water to help push out oil from the oilsands.

LISTEN: Coun. Ward Sutherland joins Ryan Jespersen to discuss planning an oilsands tour for Victoria’s mayor

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Sutherland said he’s not disappointed that only the Victoria mayor accepted an invitation for a tour.

“I’m happy out of all of them if it’s going to be the mayor. That’s probably the best because I’m hoping the mayor will go back and talk about it, and hopefully it will be a positive experience for her.”

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Canada Action is organizing the trip. The group calls itself a volunteer-created grassroots movement supporting the natural resources sector, stating it’s “working to educate Canadians about the social and economic benefits provided by the resource sector and industry’s commitment to world-class environmental stewardship.”

The City of Calgary is also sponsoring an education and advocacy push aimed at promoting responsible development of oil and gas when municipal politicians meet at their annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Quebec City in late May.

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