Hellberg makes headlines

Former Port Hardy Mayor Russ Hellberg makes headlines over Enbridge stance.

  • Feb. 14, 2013 2:00 p.m.

Former Port Hardy Mayor Russ Hellberg made national headlines last week as the community hearings on the Enbridge Pipeline wrapped up in Vancouver.

According to figures released by two environmental groups, 1,161 people spoke before the hearings on the Northern gateway project but only two spoke in favour of the project.

One of those assenting voices was that of Hellberg, who spoke at the hearing in Port Hardy in favour of the proposed plan to pipe Albertan oil products to tankers on the B.C. coast. According to releases last week he and one-time Liberal MLA Dennis MacKay were the sole proponents of the plan.

“I find the numbers suspect. I find it hard to believe only two of us were in favour,” Hellberg said last week, adding he did not believe that the quoted numbers were representative of public opinion.

He reaffirmed his belief in the project regardless of the figures.

“I think what it will do is provide a burst of economic development along the coast. It won’t directly benefit us (on the North Island), but anything that helps development — if safe — will help us.”

Hellberg said that in his opinion the benefits far outweigh the risks. “Everything we do in life has a risk,” said the former mayor, citing driving a car as an example.

He pointed to figures from studies which show that oil pollution from tanker spills makes up a relatively small proportion of the total oil pollution in the sea: 12 per cent, compared to seven per cent from natural seepage.

“To me it comes down to two types of people: those that believe in progress and those that want to stay stagnant,” he said.

There has been no change in opinion from critics of the plan either, as Alert Bay Mayor Michael Berry confirmed he was still adamantly in opposition.

Berry also addressed the panel at the Northern Gateway hearings, urging them to oppose the project.

In his address to the hearing, Berry, a professional biologist for more than forty years, spoke of the central importance that marine life and the aquatic environment in general have for the people of Alert Bay.

Their position was just as staight-forward as Hellberg’s: “It is not a matter of if, but when there might be a tanker or shipping disaster that would cause irreperable harm to the relatively pristine BC coastal shoreline and the open waters of the Pacific,” Berry said.

Berry’s address pointed to recent disasters in other part of the world saying, “There are no standards or best practices that could mitigate or compensate for disasters such as these along or near our coast.”

He pointed out that all the Earth’s oceans are connected and any disaster has serious knock-on implications for a wide area, as pollutants enter the food chain.

He and other residents summed up by saying,

“We simply have far too much to lose and virtually nothing to gain,” Berry said.

 

The community consultation section of the hearings has now wrapped up and moved to a questioning phase, with questions being put to experts and officials on the plan. The panel will continue to hear opinions on the debate until June and is expected to present its recommendations to the government by the end of the year.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

NDP candidate Babchuk a fixture in local politics since 2005

School trustee, city councillor and regional district chair sets sights on being North Island MLA

Sointula elementary school gets funding for new playground

Funding for the new playground comes from the provincial government’s Playground Equipment Program.

Facey nominated as BC Liberal candidate for the North Island riding

Liberal candidate Norm Facey has a background in forestry and manufacturing.

Some north Island forest service roads to get a minor facelift with COVID-19 recovery funding

Side Bay access road no longer ‘up in the bureaucratic air’ thanks to temporary budget increase

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read