National Energy Board Canadian Environemental Assessment Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel

3 Public consultation processes


3 Public consultation processes

3.1 Northern Gateway's public consultation program

3.1.1 Principles and goals of Northern Gateway's public consultation

3.1.2 Public information and outreach tools

3.1.3 Public consultation activities Community Advisory Boards Quantitative Risk Assessment (Marine) Working Group

3.1.4 Landowner consultation

3.2 Northern Gateway's consultation with governments

3.3 Public participation in the hearing process

3.3.1 Concerns regarding Northern Gateway's public consultation

3.4 Views of the Panel

3 Public consultation processes

The Panel regards engaging the public as an essential and ongoing activity throughout the project's entire lifespan. As part of its review, the Panel has considered and evaluated Northern Gateway's consultation with the public for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. The National Energy Board's Filing Manual requires applicants to provide evidence of consultation.

The goals of consultation are to provide the public and potentially-affected parties with information to assist in their understanding of the project, to provide opportunities to raise and understand any concerns, and to discuss how these may be appropriately addressed.

Principles of thorough and effective consultation include:

  • It is initiated as soon as possible in the planning and design phases of a project.
  • It provides clear, relevant, and timely information to potentially-affected persons or groups.
  • It is accessible to, and inclusive of, all potentially-affected persons or groups.
  • It provides appropriate and effective opportunities for all potentially-affected parties to learn about a project, and to provide comments and concerns about a project to the applicant.
  • The applicant is responsive to the needs, input, and concerns of potentially-affected persons or groups.
  • It continues throughout all phases of a project.

To assess the design and implementation of Northern Gateway's public consultation program, the Panel reviewed the information provided by all parties. The Panel considered how the public responded to opportunities for consultation on the project, how Northern Gateway considered and addressed the concerns of potentially-affected parties, and how input from the public influenced the project's proposed design and operation.

The Panel observed that parties expressed differing views about what constitutes thorough or effective consultation, and the adequacy of consultation activities undertaken for the project. Parties also expressed differing perspectives on the roles and responsibilities of parties engaged in consultation. The Panel's views on these matters are set out at the conclusion of this chapter.

3.1 Northern Gateway's public consultation program

While Aboriginal groups participated in a number of Northern Gateway's public consultation activities, the company's public consultation program focused on consultation with non-Aboriginal groups and individuals. Northern Gateway's consultation with Aboriginal groups is described in Chapter 4.

3.1.1 Principles and goals of Northern Gateway's public consultation

Northern Gateway said that the goal of its public consultation program was to be transparent, to provide information, and to address concerns to the best of its ability, based on the following principles:

  • Share information as it becomes available, so stakeholders can build their understanding of the project and engage in meaningful dialogue.
  • Encourage stakeholder input.
  • Demonstrate that Northern Gateway is sincere in its efforts to hear and seriously consider all input.
  • Provide timely and flexible opportunities for stakeholders to provide input.
  • Support dialogue through access to experts to discuss the technical aspects of the project.
  • Respect diverse opinions.
  • Work with stakeholders to identify possible solutions to concerns.
  • Work with government agencies to achieve a coordinated approach to consultation.
  • Provide consultation opportunities throughout the lifespan of the project.
  • Identify opportunities and benefits for communities throughout the lifespan of the project.
  • Accommodate new stakeholders that emerge throughout the process.

Northern Gateway said that it began its public consultation program in 2002 as part of feasibility studies for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. During 2005 and 2006, Northern Gateway focused its consultation activities on providing general project information and identifying the general concerns to be addressed early in project development. It said that consultation activities slowed in 2007 when the project was put on hold because of commercial considerations. In 2008, Northern Gateway resumed full public consultation and detailed discussions with stakeholders and Aboriginal groups.

For the purposes of public consultation, Northern Gateway said that it identified stakeholders based on the following criteria:

  • landowners and tenants owning or residing on land potentially directly affected by, or adjacent to, the right-of-way where the proposed construction and operations are to occur;
  • landowners and tenants residing within the project corridor;
  • those who reside or work near the project and could potentially be physically affected by construction or operations and its associated activities;
  • those who have established environmental, cultural, social, or economic interests in the project;
  • those who have particular knowledge that would be helpful for the project; and
  • those who have a statutory mandate to manage areas or activities that might be potentially affected by the project.

Northern Gateway initially identified 226 potentially-affected landowners and 541 individuals within the applied-for 1-kilometre-wide corridor or within 1.5 kilometres of a proposed pump station. As of March 2013, Northern Gateway noted that there were 1,438 landowners and occupants within these areas. Northern Gateway also noted approximately 300 land use dispositions in these areas.

Northern Gateway said that, throughout all phases of the project, stakeholders were, and would continue to be, encouraged to provide input into all aspects of project planning, development, and operation. Northern Gateway committed to continue consultation through all phases of the regulatory process and, if approved, through project construction and operations. Northern Gateway committed to continuing discussions to understand outstanding concerns. Where appropriate, it would make refinements to the project.

3.1.2 Public information and outreach tools

Northern Gateway said that it used a variety of information and outreach tools to provide timely information about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. As the project progressed, Northern Gateway developed additional communications materials to provide information on topics such as project refinements, studies on the project's marine component, and spill risk and response. Some of Northern Gateway's communication tools included:

  • print material (letters, project brochures, project newspaper inserts, newsletters, fact sheets, project maps, employment profile cards and brochures, and open house display boards);
  • mail-outs and emails;
  • online modules;
  • marine and pipeline discussion guides;
  • project website;
  • social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr);
  • videos and commercials; and
  • a toll-free telephone number.

Northern Gateway said that, between 2009 and 2013, there were tens of thousands of exchanges with stakeholders through face-to-face meetings, coffee chats, presentations, public forums, technical meetings, community meetings, Community Advisory Boards (CABs), blogs, social media sites, receptions, community investment events, emails, telephone calls, letters, advertisements, and website postings. These exchanges resulted in:

  • more than 970,000 visits to Northern Gateway's website;
  • more than 1,000 toll-free calls received;
  • approximately 2,100 resumes received from people across Canada hoping to work on the project; and
  • providing responses to more than 1,900 emails and letters.

The number of stakeholders and Aboriginal groups that Northern Gateway identified increased from 1,200 in 2005 to approximately 4,500 by 2012. These included land and resource users, landowners, Aboriginal groups, government representatives, Environmental Non-Government Organizations (ENGOs), media, academic and research institutions, and the public. Between 2005 and 2008, Northern Gateway hosted 36 public open houses, and provided a presentation on the project to every regional district and county that the project route would pass through and every municipality within 25 kilometres of the right-of-way.

Technical meetings

Northern Gateway said that it hosted three community technical meetings in northern British Columbia in September 2010 to offer specific information about pipeline integrity and safety, as well as local community benefits and opportunities. It said that approximately 115 attendees signed in at these meetings.

Table 3.1 Changes to project design and operation

Pipeline Route and Pump Station Locations Pipeline and Watercourse Crossings Kitimat Terminal and Marine Operations Project Operations
  • Revised route between kilometre post (KP) 0 and KP 20 to address landowner concerns.
  • Revised route between KP 310 and KP 475 to address input from Alberta Sustainable Resources Development (ASRD).
  • Relocated pipelines onto Alexander Indian Reserve Nos. 134 and 134A as a result of negotiations with the Alexander First Nation.
  • Relocated Whitecourt pump station onto the Alexis Indian Reserve No. 232, as requested by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.
  • Relocated Bear Lake pump station and pipelines off the Sas Mighe Indian Reserve No. 32, as requested by the McLeod Lake Indian Band.
  • Relocated Tumbler Ridge pump station outside the Greg Duke Memorial Forest Reserve.
  • Relocated Burns Lake pump station to address community concerns regarding the Boer Mountain Recreation Area.
  • Revised route between KP 983 and KP 988 to address a Buck Flats community concern.
  • Revised route between KP 1145 and KP 1161 to accommodate existing and proposed industrial land use.
  • Revised Pembina River crossing method to address input from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), ASRD, and Aboriginal groups.
  • Revised Athabasca River crossing method to address input from DFO, ASRD, and Aboriginal groups.
  • Relocated Little Smoky River crossing to address input from ASRD.
  • Revised Smoky River crossing method to address input from DFO and Aboriginal groups.
  • Relocated Simonette River and Smoky River watercourse crossings.
  • Relocated Stuart River crossing to address landowner concerns.
  • Relocated Five Cabin Creek crossing to address input from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment.
  • Revised Kinuseo Creek crossing method to address input from DFO.
  • Revised Murray River crossing method to an aerial crossing to address input from DFO.
  • Relocated Hook Creek crossing to address input from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment.
  • Relocated Missinka River east crossing location to address local community input.
  • Relocated Missinka River west crossing location to address input from DFO and Aboriginal groups.
  • Relocated Parsnip River crossing location and revised crossing method to address input from DFO, stakeholders, and Aboriginal groups.
  • Revised Muskeg River crossing method to a bore to address input from DFO and Aboriginal groups.
  • Revised Salmon River crossing method to a bore to address input from DFO and Aboriginal groups.
  • Relocated Owen Creek crossing location and revised crossing method to address input from DFO, Aboriginal groups, and local community.
  • Relocated Lamprey Creek crossing location and revised crossing method to address input from DFO.
  • Relocated Morice River crossing location to address input from DFO, local community, and Aboriginal groups.
  • Relocated Gosnell Creek crossing location and crossing method to address input from DFO and Aboriginal groups.
  • Relocated Clore River crossing location and revised crossing method to address input from local community and Aboriginal groups.
  • Relocated Hunter Creek crossing location to address input from DFO, local community, and Aboriginal groups.
  • Relocated Chist Creek crossing location and revised crossing method to address input from Aboriginal groups and local community.
  • Revised Cecil Creek crossing method to address input from DFO and Aboriginal groups.
  • Revised Little Wedeene River crossing method to address input from DFO and Aboriginal groups.
  • One or more radar stations would be installed near Gil Island to allow coverage of Wright Sound.
  • Weather monitoring stations would be located along the confined channel route and at the marine terminal berths.
  • Tanker berths would be equipped with a containment boom for use during oil loading operations.
  • Pilots would use independent hand-held electronic navigation systems.
  • Vapour recovery would be used to recover and treat hydrocarbon vapours from oil tanker cargo holds during loading operations.
  • Bilge water handling facilities would permit local treatment of tanker bilge liquids.
  • Water collection from the tanker berth decks would permit treatment before release to the environment.
  • A whale surveillance system would be implemented during months of peak marine mammal abundance in the Confined Channel Assessment Area.
  • Training, construction employment, and long-term operations employment initiatives.
  • Community investment initiatives.
  • Potential joint venture and preferred supplier initiatives.
  • An Access Management Plan, to address access issues along the pipeline route.

3.1.3 Public consultation activities

Throughout the Panel's process, Northern Gateway submitted detailed updates summarizing its project-related consultation activities. These updates included the concerns that were raised during consultations in Alberta and British Columbia. Northern Gateway said that stakeholder input was incorporated into project design, planning, and environmental and socio-economic assessment studies. Information was reviewed for consideration of refinements or modifications to the project, while balancing factors related to communities, landowners, Aboriginal groups, environment, engineering, integrity, cost, constructability, and operations.

As a result of concerns raised, and input received, from stakeholders and Aboriginal groups, Northern Gateway implemented a range of changes to the design and operation of the pipelines and the Kitimat Terminal. Some examples of these changes are listed in Table 3.1.

Northern Gateway said that, in some instances and after careful review, some route refinements based on stakeholder feedback were not ultimately accepted or incorporated into the project design. For example:

  • A number of pipeline route alternatives between KP 13.2 and KP 88.4 were requested by affected landowners to minimize land disturbance or to increase distances from residences. Northern Gateway deemed these alternatives to have further impacts to adjacent landowners or to have design and constructability issues.
  • ASRD requested a pipeline route alternative from KP 477.6 to KP 489.9 that parallels existing road and pipeline corridors. The alternative would have increased the pipeline route length by 1,246 metres, would not have significantly minimized disturbance requirements due to shared pipeline rights-of-way that have completely regrown, and would have traversed an area of much greater oilfield activity. Community Advisory Boards

Northern Gateway established independent Community Advisory Boards in 2009 to provide an opportunity for participants to:

  • gather, receive, and process information to arrive at a common body of knowledge;
  • identify and discuss key areas of regional interest or concern;
  • recommend improvements or enhancements to the project; and
  • educate the public.

The CABs are governed by Terms of Reference and Operating Guidelines, which the CAB memberships independently developed and ratified. Northern Gateway said that the CABs were intended to function independently and provide opportunities for meaningful exchange between Northern Gateway, local communities, Aboriginal groups, industry, stakeholders, and the public in each of five geographic regions (British Columbia North Coastal, British Columbia Northwest, British Columbia Central, Alberta North Central, and Peace Country). CABs include representatives from environmental groups, Aboriginal groups, business associations, municipal governments, and the public.

Northern Gateway said that participation in the CABs was on a "without prejudice" basis, allowing organizations to put forward their own opinions during the regulatory review process, and that participation did not represent support for the project. Northern Gateway described the CABs as participant-driven, with the scope of discussions including:

  • pipeline design, construction, and operations;
  • environmental, economic, human health, social, and community effects from routine aspects of the project;
  • risk of a hydrocarbon spill and emergency response plans;
  • protection measures to limit effects or maximize enhancements; and
  • employment, training, community benefits, and economic opportunities.

As of 2012, there were approximately 125 CAB members, 64 alternates, and 50 observers registered in the CAB process. Northern Gateway said that it routinely sent out over 450 invitations to CAB members, alternates, and observers, and that an average of 105 people attended each round of regional CAB meetings. Between 2009 and February 2013, there were 15 rounds of CAB meetings, for a total of 75 meetings.

Northern Gateway noted that a number of improvements recommended at CAB meetings resulted in changes to the project to enhance safety, including:

  • thicker-walled pipe;
  • additional isolation valves to protect environmentally-sensitive locations;
  • increasing the frequency of in-line inspections across the entire pipeline system;
  • installing complementary leak detection systems, and
  • staffing all pump stations 24 hours per day.

Some intervenors raised questions or concerns about the CABs, including:

  • how long CABs would be active;
  • whether CAB members were compensated for their involvement and, if so, the compensation amount;
  • how CAB members were determined or selected;
  • why the names of CAB members were not publically available, and whether the minutes of CAB meetings would be publically available;
  • a suggestion that some communities and Environmental Non-Government Organizations refused to participate in the CABs, due to the perception that their participation would indicate an endorsement for the project; and
  • whether any presentations on the environmental risks of the project had been offered to CABs.

In reply, Northern Gateway said that:

  • CABs would remain active throughout the life of the project, or until the CAB members decide to disband;
  • as a living document, the CAB Terms of Reference would be revisited semi-annually, or as needed at the discretion of the CAB;
  • CAB members or their alternates are offered an honorarium, and that CAB meetings are funded by Northern Gateway;
  • when requested, the names of individual CAB participants were withheld at the request of members, that the minutes of CAB meetings were available on the CAB website, and that CAB meetings were open to the public;
  • the CAB planning team invited 52 individuals representing various Environmental Non-Government Organizations to attend each CAB meeting;
  • Environmental Non-Government Organizations who attended as members included Alberta Fish and Game Association, BC Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Lakes District Friends of the Environment, Nature Alberta, and Spruce City Wildlife Association, while the Kitimat Valley Naturalists Club was a frequent observer;
  • all presentations at the CABs, other than one presentation made at the June 2011 Richmond Conference, were posted on the CAB website; and
  • environmental issues were one of the four topic areas of the CABs, and that most presentations discussed environmental issues associated with topics such as routing, construction, emergency response, and marine operations. Quantitative Risk Assessment (Marine) Working Group

In response to feedback it received, Northern Gateway said that it proposed a Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) Working Group of Aboriginal, environmental, and community organizations to oversee the completion of the QRA for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

Northern Gateway said that it contacted 10 Aboriginal groups, 11 Environmental Non-Government Organizations, 2 local municipal organizations, and 2 federal departments regarding their interest and capacity to participate in the QRA Working Group. Northern Gateway said that it identified Environmental Non-Government Organizations with marine-related mandates that had expressed an interest in, or concerns about, marine-related project risks. It identified Aboriginal groups and local community organizations based on geographical proximity to marine-related project activities.

Northern Gateway said that the QRA Working Group provided advice and input for selecting the most qualified consultant team to complete the QRA work, and worked with the consultant to finalize the scope and methods for conducting the QRA. The selected consultant, Det Norske Veritas – Maritime (DNV), prepared two reports, which were included in Northern Gateway's TERMPOL submission for the project.

Northern Gateway noted that a number of groups invited to participate indicated that they would not participate in the QRA Working Group because they expressed concerns about the regulatory process or they opposed the project. Attendance varied from meeting to meeting. Northern Gateway said that some groups requested that their attendance be recorded as "observer" and that their presence should not be characterized as support for the project.

Northern Gateway said that a total of seven QRA Working Group meetings were held during 2009 and 2010. It said that the QRA Working Group agreed in 2010 that the TERMPOL Study 3.8 draft, provided by Det Norske Veritas – Maritime, could be submitted to the Transport Canada TERMPOL Review Committee.

During questioning, one intervenor raised concerns about how the work of the QRA Working Group was conducted, and whether all parties could understand the information. Northern Gateway said that the QRA Working Group's intent was to allow groups invited to participate the opportunity to contribute in selecting the consultant, to review the study results, and to ask questions of the consultant. The QRA included a hazard identification process and the development of mitigation measures. Hazard identification input related to marine shipping included a number of interviews with local stakeholders to gain further local knowledge of the proposed shipping routes.

3.1.4 Landowner consultation

Northern Gateway said that it engaged with landowners and occupants, as appropriate, to:

  • inform them of the project;
  • solicit their feedback;
  • gain access for studies and surveys;
  • record their comments, concerns, and recommendations; and
  • develop and implement a strategy to address their concerns, whenever possible.

Northern Gateway said that, by October 2010, 99 per cent of all landowners and occupants within the original applied-for 1-kilometre-wide pipeline corridor, as well as those within 1.5 kilometres of a pump station, were personally consulted and provided with updated project information, landowner guides, project pamphlets, and maps. The company said that it would continue to consult with previously-identified landowners and with newly-identified landowners and occupants.

Northern Gateway said that, as it made route refinements, some landowners and occupants were either no longer within the 1-kilometre-wide pipeline corridor or within 1.5 kilometres of a pump station, or were subsequently identified within these areas. Those landowners who no longer fell within the consultation areas were notified and no longer engaged as part of efforts within those areas. Those landowners or occupants that were subsequently identified within these areas were contacted. Northern Gateway said that, beginning in January 2011, it contacted the "subsequently-identified" landowners and occupants in Alberta and British Columbia to review aspects of the project and provided project information to them. Northern Gateway also said that it met specifically with certain landowners and occupants upon request to address concerns on a variety of topics including, among other things, routing, proximity to various residences and buildings, tree stands, rare plants, calving areas, abandonment, compensation, damages, and the 30-metre safety zone.

3.2 Northern Gateway's consultation with governments

Northern Gateway said that it incorporated consultation with municipal, provincial, and federal governments into its consultation activities for the project, as it anticipated they would have an interest in shaping project planning.

Northern Gateway identified a range of federal, provincial, and municipal government stakeholders as part of its consultation program. Table 3.2 lists the federal, provincial, and municipal authorities consulted by Northern Gateway.

Northern Gateway said that it hosted a number of environmental and socio-economic assessment workshops beginning in 2005, targeted to those stakeholders having, or anticipated to have, an active interest in those aspects of the project. This included municipal, provincial, and federal government authorities involved in managing biophysical resources.

As well, Northern Gateway said that representatives of municipal, federal, and provincial governments participated in CAB meetings.

Northern Gateway said that it would continue consultation activities through all phases of the project, including consultation with officials of urban municipalities, counties, and regional districts, as well as with federal and provincial government officials and elected representatives.

The Government of British Columbia requested further information from Northern Gateway on aspects of its consultation with stakeholders, landowners, and government, including:

  • the conflict resolution process available to land holders and holders of provincial authorizations, and any dispute mechanisms that are available; and
  • information regarding Northern Gateway's consultation activities with forest industry user groups, including the forest license holders that would be affected by the project.

In reply, Northern Gateway said that section 88 of the National Energy Board Act provides for negotiation proceedings for the purposes of achieving voluntary settlements of damage claims with the assistance of a federally-appointed negotiator. In the event that damage claims cannot be resolved through negotiation (including appropriate dispute resolution, where appropriate), section 90 of the National Energy Board Act establishes a process for arbitration proceedings and the appointment of a federal arbitration tribunal to settle any disputes regarding damages claims.

Northern Gateway said that information regarding the project has been provided to forest industry user groups. It listed 53 forestry industry user groups that have received information. It also said that, if a forest industry user group, such as a forest license holder, may be directly affected or is adjacent to the right-of-way, it would have received land-specific information such as a Notice of Environmental Assessment on subject lands, land interest update letters, a pump station notification, or personal land agent contacts.

Table 3.2 Federal, provincial, and municipal authorities consulted by northern gateway

Government of Canada

The Auditor General of Canada, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the Canada Transportation Agency, Environment Canada, Finance Canada, DFO, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Health Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (now Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada), Industry Canada, Intergovernmental and International Affairs, International Trade, Justice Canada, the National Energy Board, Natural Resources Canada, the Pacific Pilotage Authority Canada, Parks Canada, the Privy Council Office, Service Canada Centre, Transport Canada, and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Government of British Columbia

Advanced Education and Labour Market Development; Agriculture and Lands; Children and Family Development; Community Services; Economic Development; Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources; Environment; Finance; Forests and Range; Health Services; Housing and Social Development; the Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat; Labour and Citizens' Services; Public Safety and Solicitor General; Technology, Trade and Economic Development; Tourism, Sport and the Arts; Transportation and Infrastructure; the BC Environmental Assessment Office; BC Hydro; the BC Major Project Inventory; the BC Oil and Gas Commission; the BC Public Service Agency; the BC Industry Training Authority; the BC Transportation Financing Authority; and WorkSafe BC

British Columbia municipalities

Bear Lake, Burns Lake, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort St. James, Fort St. John, Fraser Lake, Hazelton, Houston, Hudson's Hope, Kitimat, Mackenzie, Peace River Regional District, Port Edward, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, Regional District of Kitimat–Stikine, Skeena–Queen Charlotte Regional District, Smithers, Southbank, Telkwa, Terrace, Tumbler Ridge, Valemount, Vancouver, and Vanderhoof

Government of Alberta

Culture and Community Spirit; Economic Development; Employment and Immigration; Energy; Environment; Finance and Enterprise; Health and Wellness; Infrastructure and Transportation; International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations; Municipal Affairs and Housing; Solicitor General and Public Security; ASRD; Tourism, Parks and Recreation; Transportation; the Treasury Board; Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties; the Energy and Utilities Board; and the Energy Resources Conservation Board

Alberta municipalities

Beaverlodge, Bon Accord, Bruderheim, County of Grande Prairie No. 1, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Fort Saskatchewan, Fox Creek, Grande Prairie, Lac Ste. Anne County, Mayerthorpe, McBride, Morinville, Peace River, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County, Valleyview, Wembley, Whatcom County, and Whitecourt

3.3 Public participation in the hearing process

As outlined in the Joint Review Panel Agreement, participation of the public and Aboriginal peoples was facilitated to enable them to convey their views on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project to the Panel by various means. In the public hearing process, several options were made available to anyone wishing to participate. These methods of participation, described below, varied in their levels of involvement and respective privileges and responsibilities.

Those who did not wish to actively participate in the hearing process were still able to follow the proceeding by viewing information in the online public registry, listening to the oral hearings via webcast, or by attending the hearings in person as an observer.

A broad range of Canadian society participated in the hearing process, including individuals, community and stakeholder groups, landowners, governments, and Aboriginal groups. These included:

  • children and youth;
  • local, regional, and national representatives;
  • business owners; and
  • Aboriginal Elders, traditional knowledge holders, and leaders.

All available forms of participation were used during the hearing process.

Letters of comment

Over 9,400 letters of comment were filed in this proceeding. By submitting letters of comment, participants were able to provide the Panel with their knowledge, views, or concerns about the project at the level of detail they chose. Individuals or groups that submitted letters of comment were not considered intervenors, and could not ask written or oral questions of the parties or make final argument.

Oral statements

The Panel heard 1,179 oral statements. Oral statements allowed participants to share their knowledge, views, or concerns about the project in person to the Panel. Presenters were required to register to make a statement. Oral statement givers were not considered intervenors and could not ask written or oral questions of the parties or make final argument.


There were 206 registered intervenors (listed in Appendix 6), not including those that registered but subsequently withdrew their involvement. Intervenors were characterized as parties to the review process. Their roles and responsibilities included:

  • asking questions, both in writing and orally, of Northern Gateway, other intervenors, and, with Panel approval, government participants;
  • submitting written evidence or, with Panel approval, oral evidence;
  • formally receiving all documents filed in the process; and
  • making final argument, in writing and orally.
Government Participants

There were 12 registered government participants in the Panel's process (listed in Appendix 6). Government participants had similar capabilities and responsibilities as intervenors, with certain restrictions on their involvement, and were considered parties to the review process.

Oral hearings

A significant portion of the information that the Panel received was gathered through oral hearings. These included both community hearings (for oral evidence and oral statements) and final hearings (for oral questioning and final arguments).

Community hearings were held in locations along the proposed pipeline route, as well as locations in the vicinity of the proposed Kitimat Terminal and the proposed marine transportation routes. Final hearings occurred in Edmonton, Alberta, and in Prince George, Prince Rupert, and Terrace in British Columbia. A total of 180 days of oral hearings were held, including 7 days when the Panel received oral comments from the public and Aboriginal groups on the draft List of Issues, possible oral hearing locations, and what supplemental information Northern Gateway should be required to file.

To help the public understand and prepare for the oral hearings, staff from the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency provided 18 presentations to the public prior to receipt of the application to explain the joint review process. Sixteen public information sessions were conducted in 2011 to discuss the hearing process and participation options. Over 450 members of the public and Aboriginal groups attended these sessions. The Panel's Secretariat staff also held a total of 32 online workshops with intervenors and oral statement presenters to assist their participation in the joint review process.

3.3.1 Concerns regarding Northern Gateway's public consultation

Through information requests, written and oral submissions, and direct questioning, members of the public and stakeholders raised a number of concerns regarding Northern Gateway's public consultation.

Two landowners raised concerns regarding consultation with respect to proposed routing across their properties. In reply, Northern Gateway said that it would respect individual requests for preferred communication (such as by registered mail), and it expressed continued willingness to meet to discuss concerns. Chapter 9 includes further discussion of issues related to the proposed routing for the project.

The Fort St. James Sustainability Group asked whether Northern Gateway planned to negotiate an agreement with landowners along the project route, similar to that developed with the Manitoba Pipeline Landowners Association and the Saskatchewan Association of Pipeline Landowners for the Enbridge Alberta Clipper Pipeline Project. In reply, Northern Gateway said that its intention was to negotiate with individual landowners along the pipeline right-of-way, and that it would negotiate with British Columbia landowners as a group if asked to do so.

The group also requested details of Northern Gateway's consultation regarding the pump station location in the Fort St. James area, and whether Northern Gateway would re-evaluate the station's location. Northern Gateway said that it conducted personal consultation with approximately 109 landowners and occupants within 1.5 kilometres of the Fort St. James pump station. An additional six landowners and occupants could not be consulted with personally, but Northern Gateway said that they were consulted via mail. Northern Gateway noted that it believed the proposed Fort St. James pump station is appropriately located because it is next to the major highway corridor and major power transmission line in this area, and has good access. Northern Gateway also suggested that further information exchanges about how pump stations operate might be helpful, that it would be open to further dialogue regarding other location options in the area, and would continue to work with concerned landowners. Northern Gateway said that it provided information to landowners concerned with property values, domestic water supply, and noise.

Some intervenors raised a number of general concerns or requested further information regarding Northern Gateway's public consultation program. These were related to:

  • plans for engaging with other companies who are carrying out major projects, as well as consultation with regional governments and agencies;
  • how consultation is defined, whether it is meaningful, and consultation obligations;
  • if Northern Gateway's approach to consultation differed depending on the audience;
  • information concerning the location of valves, whether the public would have an opportunity to provide input, and information regarding the consultation programs for spill response and high consequence area maps; and
  • information on the relationship between CABs and the Northern Gateway Alliance, and funding to the Alliance.

In reply to these concerns and requests for further information, Northern Gateway said that:

  • The Kitimat Chamber of Commerce initiated a series of meetings involving Northern Gateway, other major companies working in Kitimat and Terrace, the District of Kitimat, City of Terrace, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Child Development Centre, Social Services, Kitimat Community Services, and the museum to discuss the socio-economic effects of the project and how to manage them. Upon project approval, the company said that it would approach the District of Kitimat to determine the appropriate mechanism by which information about the project and other projects in the area would be shared, effects of the project and other projects would be monitored, and corrective actions (if required) would be taken.
  • Consultation is a process that should ensure that both parties are better informed and which entails testing and being prepared to amend proposals in light of information received, and providing feedback.
  • The company had an overarching strategy on public consultation, with various tools to engage different groups, including the CABs, the Northern Gateway Alliance, open houses, public speaking, the company website, blogs, and hearing participation. People chose to engage in different ways and on different levels for the project. Therefore, Northern Gateway had different ways of engaging with people and information was provided in various ways.
  • The locations of pipeline valve sites and consequence areas would be finalized during detailed engineering and would primarily be based on CSA Z662-11 requirements and the additional requirements identified in the pipeline risk assessment work. An opportunity for public input on valve site locations would be available through the CABs. Northern Gateway is responsible for the design, operation, and integrity of the pipelines and, consequently, it would select the valve site locations.
  • The Northern Gateway Alliance was a community coalition that provided people in pipeline corridor communities and elsewhere with information about the project, the regulatory review process, and how people could participate in the review process. The Alliance chairperson was a paid position funded by Northern Gateway, and Northern Gateway reimbursed administrative expenses incurred by the Alliance.

3.4 Views of the Panel

The Panel finds that the magnitude, extent, and potential impacts of this project required an extensive program of public consultation. The Panel considers thorough and effective consultation to be a process that is inclusive of, and responsive to, all potentially-affected groups and individuals. The Panel notes that, among potentially-affected parties, there were differing perspectives on what constitutes a thorough and effective process of consultation. There were also different views among some parties about how consultation should occur, and their roles and responsibilities during consultation. The Panel believes that it is critical for all parties to recognize and understand their respective roles and responsibilities for achieving effective dialogue during consultation.

The Panel noted the principles of thorough and effective consultation at the beginning of this chapter. The Panel finds that these principles require that a process must provide timely, appropriate, and effective opportunities for all potentially-affected parties to learn about a project, provide their comments and concerns, and to discuss how these can be addressed by the applicant. The applicant must be genuinely responsive.

Affected parties have an ongoing and mutual responsibility to respond to opportunities for consultation, to communicate concerns they may have, and to discuss how these can be addressed. Consultation requires trust, mutual respect, and relationship-building. All parties have an obligation to seek a level of cultural fluency, in order to better understand the values, customs, needs, and preferences of the other parties involved in the consultation process. All parties may be required to adjust their expectations in response to the information, concerns, and interests raised and considered through the process. The Panel observed that this approach did not always occur in this proceeding.

The Panel finds that Northern Gateway developed and implemented a broadly-based public consultation program, offering numerous venues and opportunities for the public, landowners, governments, and other stakeholders to learn about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, and to provide their views and concerns. The Panel accepts Northern Gateway's view that consultation is a process which should ensure that all parties are better informed through consultation, and that it involves being prepared to amend proposals in light of information received. In this regard, the Panel notes that Northern Gateway made numerous changes to the design and operation of the project in response to input provided by the public, landowners, governments, and stakeholders. Changes to the project based on input provided by Aboriginal groups are discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.

The Panel heard from individuals during oral statements, in letters of comment, and from intervenors that Northern Gateway's program had been inadequate. The Panel notes that public consultation is an important process, based on general principles of timeliness, inclusiveness, accessibility, and responsiveness. The requirements set out in the National Energy Board's Filing Manual provide an applicant with a starting point, and the Panel's process was not designed to be prescriptive with respect to consultation. Meeting the principles of thorough and effective consultation, in addition to the requirements outlined in the Filing Manual, can require an applicant to exceed the regulatory expectations in order to meet the public's need to be informed and to provide input. The National Energy Board's Filing Manual requires applicants to develop and implement a consultation program that is appropriate for the nature, magnitude, and geographic extent of the project and its potential effects.

In order to optimize opportunities for individuals and groups to present their evidence and opinions to the Panel, the Panel incorporated remote participation through video and telephone links into the hearing room during all aspects of the oral hearings, including questioning. It is the Panel's view that this approach was effective. Many participants, including expert witnesses, commented that they found the remote participation options useful and effective. This approach provided all participants with opportunities to participate and not be excluded from giving evidence and opinions due to travel, finances, work, and life commitments.

The Panel finds that Northern Gateway provided appropriate and effective opportunities for the public and potentially-affected parties to learn about the project, and to provide their views and concerns to the company. The Panel is satisfied that Northern Gateway considered, and was responsive to, the input it received regarding the design, construction, and operation of the project.

Northern Gateway has committed to continuing its engagement activities throughout the project's lifespan. This includes committing to support the CABs for as long as members are prepared to participate. The Panel views the CABs as important multi-stakeholder venues that can facilitate continued dialogue, potentially over the project's entire life.

The Panel finds that, with Northern Gateway's commitments, and by meeting the conditions set out by the Panel, Northern Gateway can effectively continue to engage the public, landowners, Aboriginal groups, and stakeholders, and address issues raised throughout the project's operational life.


Date Modified: