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Most British Columbians oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline

Less than half reject the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion, according to a new Insights West poll.

Northern Gateway protest; Kinder Morgan sign
Northern Gateway protest in Smithers; Kinder Morgan site, Burnaby. Vancouver Observer file photos

Most British Columbians continue to voice opposition against a particular pipeline project and are deeply divided when assessing another one, a new Insights West poll has found.

The online survey of a representative provincial sample looked at the perceptions of residents on the Enbridge Northern Gateway and the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

Enbridge Northern Gateway

Across British Columbia, 70 per cent of residents say they are “very familiar” or “somewhat familiar” with the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway. More than half of British Columbians (52%) are currently opposed to the project, while two in five (41%) support it.

Opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway is strongest among women (60%), residents aged 18 to 34 (61%) and among those who live in Metro Vancouver (53%) and Vancouver Island (57%). Support for the proposed project is highest among men (53%), residents aged 35-to-54 (45%) and 55 and over (also 45%), and among those who reside in Northern B.C. (49%) and Southern B.C. (48%)

Since the last Insights West survey on this topic — conducted in June 2014 — both support and opposition to the project have increased by three points.

Most British Columbians think the Enbridge Northern Gateway will create new jobs (71%, including 78% among Northern BC residents), support economic growth (63%), create new capital investment (also 63%) and lead to increased tax revenue (52%). Fewer residents expect the project to lead to strong relationships with Asian countries (47%) and benefit First Nations communities (42%).

When asked about their concerns about the Enbridge Northern Gateway, more than two-thirds of residents mention the risk of an oil spill (79%), the expected increase in oil tanker traffic at Kitimat and through the passage (78%), the impact of pipeline construction on the environment (73%) and a lack of trust in Enbridge (67%).

Other concerns outlined by British Columbians include the possibility of infringing upon the rights of communities living along the pipeline path (65%), Enbridge’s history of incidents (also 65%) and the project’s impact on First Nations communities (63%).

Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain

Across the province, three in four residents (75%) have heard of the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and 74 per cent claim to be “very familiar” or “somewhat familiar” with it.

Less than half of British Columbians (46%) say they oppose the proposed Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion, while a slightly smaller proportion (42%) support it.

Since the last Insights West survey on this topic — conducted in May 2014 — the level of support for the proposed expansion has remained stable, while opposition fell by three points.

Opposition to the pipeline expansion is more robust among women (54%), residents aged 18-to-34 (56%) and people who live in Metro Vancouver (53%). Support is highest among Men (53%), those aged 55+ (49%) and residents of Northern BC (55%) and Southern B.C. (47%).

The demographic analysis tells the story of how the province currently feels about these two pipeline projects. Women and the youngest residents are decidedly more forceful in their opposition, while men and those over the age of 55 tend to be more in favour, although their support is mostly moderate.

Mario Canseco is vice-president of public affairs for Insights West. Results are based on an online study conducted from July 23 to July 25, 2015, among 823 adult residents of British Columbia. Click to view the detailed data tabulations. 

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