For months now, we have been following with interest, concern and consternation the debate between Alberta and B.C. about the Trans Mountain pipeline.
We have heard much about how the project will benefit residents of Alberta, of B.C., of Canadians overall. We have heard much about the potential environmental impacts and the economic benefits, and why one doesn’t take precedence over the other.
The voice missing in this discussion, though, is our voice. It is time to speak out because, as municipal leaders, we know the true impacts of energy development.
We know first-hand the disruption a project of this scope and scale can have to the communities all along the route.
We know that, as municipalities, we are the first responders to emergency events and have to always keep the safety of our communities in mind.
We know the challenge making sound decisions in land use planning to balance growth and protect the environment.
Simply put, we have a lot of experience making these tough decisions.
What we also know is that many of our friends and neighbours in our own communities are still struggling to get back to work.
We know that our residents are tapped out and simply cannot afford to pay more in property taxes to build and maintain the roads, water and sewer treatment plants, and recreation needs of our communities.
We know the dangers of shipping materials by road and by rail compared to a pipeline.
We know that fear cannot impede progress, and as leaders, we must often make decisions that may not always be supported by everyone, but are important ones that will help move our communities forward.
It is because of all this that AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) members voted strongly in favour of a resolution put forward by the City of Spruce Grove supporting the Trans Mountain Pipeline. We recognize the money that pays for health care, roads, policing and other critical services our residents rely on, all comes from one taxpayer, and that taxpayer lives in our communities. The increased taxes and royalties from the Trans Mountain Pipeline – federally, provincially and locally -- means less money coming out of the pockets of our residents.
Supporting the Trans Mountain Pipeline doesn’t mean looking away while reaping the economic benefits. As municipal leaders, we are the ones who will be on the ground to ensure that our communities are respected as the pipeline is constructed, that the needs of the environment are honoured, and that the appropriate safety measures are put in place to protect our citizens.
This pipeline project is bigger than all of us, yet it can mean so much to our communities. For this reason, I invite all municipal leaders and their communities to step up and lend our voice in support of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
(The AUMA includes Didsbury and Carstairs).
- Barry Morishita. AUMA president