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Chamber, Cavers at odds over pipeline positions

July 25, 2016 2:32 P.M.
Coun. Denis Walsh speaks to a federal panel on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Kamloops Chamber of Commerce says Coun. Donovan Cavers should have represented the City, not his own views, while speaking before a federal panel on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Cavers rebutted Monday to the chamber’s criticism, stating that the chamber board is ill informed, both on council protocol and all that pertains to the pipeline issue.

“The chamber is ill informed about the project and its impact on the city, the province, the country and the planet,” Caver said.

Earlier Monday, chamber president Ryan Scorgie stressed that the pipeline expansion would be positive for the city and he questioned statements to the panel by Cavers, who has strong views on climate change.

In its own submission to the ministerial panel that held hearings last week at TRU, the chamber expressed strong support for the Kinder Morgan project that would triple pipeline capacity for shipping diluted bitumen from Alberta to Vancouver through Kamloops. Similarly, the chamber also supports Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project in the North.

“It is our understanding that the City of Kamloops officially maintains a neutral position on the Trans Mountain expansion project,” Scorgie said in a news release. “While neutral, the opinions expressed by Donovan Cavers seemed to show a rather pessimistic perspective on a project that will clearly bring substantial economic benefits to the residents of Kamloops.”

Scorgie suggested that Cavers was speaking inappropriately: “The chamber believes that, when one accepts the role as an elected official, one must be prepared to publicly accept and adhere to the formal position of the organization.  This is a standard adhered to by politicians at all levels and City officials should not be exempt from this.”

However, that’s not how Cavers sees it. He said he clearly identified his statements as his personal view while explaining why the City did not make an official presentation to the panel. Councillors are free to express their personal opinions as long as they don’t misrepresent those views as coming from the City in an official capacity.

“I don’t subscribe to that form of local government, and I don’t think that Peter Milobar does, either,” he said of the suggestion that councillors shouldn’t be giving their own views.

“I take it with a grain of salt,” Cavers said, adding that the chamber represents only a narrow segment of the population. “They’re looking at it through a very narrow scope.”

In its submission, the chamber recommended that both senior levels of government work to:

  • Recognize and support one project, one environmental review process.
  • Actively work together and with First Nations in an expeditious manner to resolve outstanding treaty negotiations to provide certainty and stability required for private investments.
  • Coordinate, in an expeditious manner a review of Canada's marine safety regime, other international regimes and what, if anything Canada would need to do to ensure it has a world class marine safety system;
  • Coordinate, in an expeditious manner a review of Canada's terrestrial oil spill safety regime, other international regimes and what, if anything Canada would need to do to ensure it has a world class terrestrial safety system.
  • Work together to identify opportunities, training, education, joint ventures, etc., that would ensure First Nations communities can fully participate and benefit from Western Access and natural resource development opportunities.
  • Take a more proactive role in communicating facts about the provincially and federally regulated pipeline industry as well as B.C. and Canada’s safety record for shipping heavy oil.

On the City's account at the panel roundtable, environment services manager Glen Farrow outlined concerns already conveyed to the National Energy Board review of the Trans Mountain project. However, the panel was clearly expecting a City presentation relevant to specific concerns within its mandate, to hear views  on topics not covered by the NEB review. That conspicuous absence was partly the fault of the federal Ministry of Natural Resources, which didn't provide adequate notice of the roundtable, Cavers said.

He said the City's doesn't have a neutral position on the pipeline, at least not officially. Rather, it has not passed judgment on the proposal, for or against, in the same manner as the chamber and the TNRD.

"It's just never been discussed and it never will be discussed at a council meeting," he said. "It's not something that we have the capacity to deal with."

The panel, which continues its town hall meetings and roundtables this week, wants to hear from participants — stakeholders as well as the general public — which decision on the pipeline they would consider to be in the best long-term interests of Canada. By Nov. 1, the panel will make recommendations to federal cabinet, which in turn is expected to decide on the pipeline by year's end.

Mark Twang says:
July 26, 2016 08:56am

So no director of the Chamber of Commerce can ever give his/her personal views even if those views contradict a Chambers resolution? Hypocrites.


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Bianca says:
July 26, 2016 06:12am

I own a business but am not a member of the chamber. Comments like this remind me why I chose not to join. I don't share these views it these values. We need more people like Cavers who speak out and share their views honestly regardless of criticism and shaming.


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Trish Keegan says:
July 25, 2016 08:16pm

City of Kamloops is receiving $700,000 in community benefits from Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain Pipeline. The City is, therefore, not "maintaining a neutral position."


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Nancy Flood says:
July 25, 2016 08:08pm

I disagree with the tone of your article. In the Canadian Parliament, our representatives must virtually always vote with the party--despite what might be in the best interests of those who elected them. And this is true despite the fact that these representatives may have promised--during an election campaign--to "work for YOU in Ottawa." Municipal government is different and our elected representatives can vote with their heads and hearts and can truly represent the people who elected them. Donovan Cavers clearly stated that he was speaking for himself and was not representing the official view of the City, AND he was speaking for those who elected him--I think it would be pretty clear that those who voted Cavers would have shared his views on climate change, the pipeline, etc. Good for him!


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Bill Hadgkiss says:
July 25, 2016 05:55pm

The truth is out with this Husky spill in Sask.
Notice the offers of help from Kinder Morgan and Enbridge.
Is this the real Kinder Surprise?
We move oil by pipeline, train, truck & water, but for the last one you must remember to use a boat.
How many warnings does it take to stop feeding the BIG OIL dinosauer.
Others are building renewable and sustainable energy for our children.


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David Johnson says:
July 25, 2016 04:54pm

As long as Councillor Cavers clearly informs the panel that he speaks as an individual, not as a representative of the city, any response from the Chamber or any other external body is moot. The panel is more than capable of separating the views of the man from the job the man happens to hold.

The Chamber (or at least Mr. Scorgie, we have no idea if he is speaking on behalf of the Chamber) is suggesting that by arguing against Cavers right and ability to speak, yet not complain about Councillor Walsh also exercising the same ability ... means that the Chamber disagree with the content of Cavers position, yet instead complain from the standpoint of Cavers speaking at all given that he is a City Councillor.

This is politicization of an issue, in an effort to discredit Cavers and his view, simply because his view differs from that of the Chamber. The voters of this City gave Mr. Cavers this job, BECAUSE he will speak up, whether we agree with his view or not. I don't remember voting in members of the Chamber of Commerce.


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Paul Hemaire says:
July 25, 2016 03:49pm

Dennis and Cavers. Scary that they are representatives of the great people of Kamloops. How embarrassing!


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