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Kitimat settles on date and one long-winded question for Enbridge Northern Gateway plebiscite

Kitmat District Council has voted to hold the plebiscite on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline on April 12, with advance polls on April 2 and 9.

After some debate, Council also agreed on one of the questions Kitimat residents will be answering , which read:

"Do you support the final report recommendations of the Joint Review Panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Aurthority and the National Energy Board, that the Enbridge Northern Gateway project be approved subject to 209 conditions set out in Volume 2 of the JRP's Final Report?"

The question refers to the 425-page second part of a report issued by the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel last December.

Despite widespread opposition in BC, the panel recommended federal government to approve the controversial pipeline, which would carry bitumen from Alberta's oil fields through northern BC to Kitimat. 

Several councillors reportedly opposed the question, arguing that it was too long and bound to cause confusion. Councillor Phil Germouth told CFTK-TV that the JRP's recommendations shouldn't have been part of the question. 

"Not everybody out there is going to read the JRP report," said Germouth. "They have their opinions, whether they're for or against it... they're not going to read that report. I think it's just too lengthy of a question to try to ask and too confusing possibly."

People will get to respond "Yes" "No" or "Undecided" to the question. 

Council tabled the discussion after approving the first question, but additional questions to the plebiscite may come forward at the January 20 meeting.

Other potential questions are expected to be related to the issue of a potential refinery and whether local concerns are related to marine life.

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Athabasca tar sands, photographed by Andrew S. Wright

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