(ABOVE: Energy East pipeline route, looking south from Jinkinson Road. Via Google Maps.)
City councillor Shad Qadri says that Stittsville should receive some form of compensation if TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project is approved.
“There should be some local benefits for the community, whether there’s an accident or whether something happens to the environment when they’re installing the pipeline itself,” says Qadri.
Qadri says no compensation program has been discussed so far with TransCanada. A compensation agreement exists between the City of Ottawa and Waste Management for the Carp Road Landfill. The City receives money based on how much garbage is collected. The money is put back into community projects, such as the stewardship of the forest near Sacred Heart High School.
The Energy East pipeline would pass just west of suburban Stittsville, converting an existing natural gas pipeline to an oil pipeline.
The City’s lobby registry shows several emails, meetings and phone calls between TransCanada representatives and various city councillors, including Qadri.
(TransCanada has also submitted an incredibly detailed log of their interactions with the public as part of their application for the pipeline project.)
Qadri says most of the interactions have been to answer his concerns about safety.
“I’ve only had three meetings. One of them was public, at the community centre at Johnny Leroux. One was with city staff in terms of planning, and the third one was casual conversation over the phone with Energy East people,” he says.
“When they call the office they’re registering that as a conversation. Most of the time they’re calling either to schedule a meeting or to chat about something. But none of those calls really get into having a meeting with them in any way, shape or form,” he says.
“In terms of the emails, I’ve had about four emails with them. One of them was after the first open house in town. I asked those people to send me those questions. Once I received them I had them answered by Energy East and those answers are posted on my web site,” he says.
The decision on whether or not the pipeline goes ahead rests with the federal government. The City does not appear to have any formal role to play.
Qadri points out that he also plans to meet with representatives from Ecology Ottawa in the near future.
“Energy East and Ecology Ottawa are looking for favourable support from representatives to the area. Neither of the parties have recieved that as yet. I’m still asking questions of City staff to see where and how this will affect our environment,” he says.
Does Qadri support or oppose the pipeline? He says he hasn’t made up his mind.
“Some of the safety concerns I’ve expressed haven’t been answered properly from Trans Canada. I’m still going to be asking those questions until I get a guarantee of safety. I want those questions that people have asked of me to be answered properly,” he says.
The Stittsville Village Association (SVA) may be receiving a donation from TransCanada to help support the annual Parade of Lights this Saturday.
SVA president Phil Sweetnam says he met one of TransCanada’s publicity people at a recent event, and she forwarded a sponsorship form for the SVA to submit.
Sweetnam said he wasn’t sure how much money would be available.
“We just have to put in what we need for that operation, and they have saved a bit of money for us. I suspect if we ask them for $700 or $1000, that’s what I’m hoping they might give to us,” he says.
He says the SVA doesn’t have a formal policy about what corporate groups they accept donations from, but in the past they have refused money from Waste Management during a period “heated” debate about the Carp Road Landfill. (They’ve since accepted money from Waste Management.)
Sweetnam says he doesn’t feel the donation from Energy East would be unethical.
“Are there any strings attached to this money? Are we taking this money on the assumption that we’re going to give an easy passage or favourable outcome to a particular decision? We take the money and we will be holding TransCanada accountable. I’m comfortable that they haven’t asked any special favour of me,” he says.
Ecology Ottawa is holding an “Energy East Movie Night” on Monday, November 24 at Johnny Leroux Arena. They’ll be showing a movie followed by a discussion about the proposed pipeline.