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Pipelines can fit well with communities, Mayor Kate Patrick, Town of Mayerthorpe

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Pipelines can fit well with communities, Mayor Kate Patrick, Town of Mayerthorpe

Written by Mayor Kate Patrick,  for The Mayerthorpe Freelancer, March 26, 2014One way to get a sense for a company is to work with it in the community. That’s where you see first-hand the safety culture in action, the consistent efforts toward environmental stewardship, the commitment to communication with neighbors and the support for the Town’s businesses and community initiatives.

I’ve seen pipelining up close, and I’ve come to view it as part of the solution to strengthening local economies, contributing to the job market, and helping pay for local services.

As a landowner who farms on land that’s divided by a pipeline, and as Mayor of Mayerthorpe, I’ve been impressed with the energy pipeline industry so far. I can say confidently that the Town’s experience with pipeline companies has been remarkably positive.

Companies like Alliance Pipelines and Pembina Pipeline Ltd. have been highly professional in the way they’ve gone about construction, operation and maintenance of various aspects of their projects. These companies are in it for the long term, and for Mayerthorpe that’s vitally important. Town Council shares this view on pipelines, as stated collectively in a letter of comment on the proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines project that was filed with the federal Joint Review Panel, which in December, 2013 recommended the project for approval by the Federal Cabinet, subject to 209 conditions.

In particular, my confidence in Northern Gateway comes from having dealt with the Alliance Pipeline, 50 percent owned by Enbridge. Alliance’s line crosses the northern edge of our farmland. As Northern Gateway is also affiliated with Enbridge, we landowners know what we can expect.

Alliance crew stay regularly in touch with all the property owners, monitor the line and consult with owners when maintenance work might be required. In short, the underground pipeline has virtually no impact on the running of our farm machinery across the right-of-way. Equally important, they’re community-minded in a region where community means a great deal. Companies like Alliance and Northern Gateway know how important safety training is to a community’s first responders.

During the JRP hearings, the Town’s position was we were confident as a Council that leading pipeline technology, rigorous safety systems and state of the art monitoring would ensure the protection of the environment, the landowners, and the surrounding communities. We live on the land, and so it goes without saying that its environmental stewardship and the safety of our citizens are non-negotiable. We also said we anticipate the project would stimulate the local, provincial and federal economies by expanding product into new markets, creating temporary and permanent employment through BC and Alberta and supporting local industry and other business.

To be clear, Northern Gateway Pipelines proposed right-of-way would fall outside Town of Mayerthorpe’s corporate limits. The benefits of taxation that would eventually be generated from the operating pipeline would go to the federal and provincial government, and rural municipalities. Nevertheless, it’s important to stress that Mayerthorpe would not only benefit indirectly from tax revenue from a completed project, but the local community would stand to receive economic benefits that would go far beyond pure tax revenue.

From our perspective, the project is ideally suited to helping the Town diversify our industry. In large part that occurs during the initial project construction, given the number of local construction contractors that will wish to participate.  But strengthening the local economy also means encouraging industry suppliers to shop in local stores during the initial construction phase and beyond. It means securing monitoring, maintenance and repair positions.

It means partnering, as we did in the past with Alliance, on civic projects such as the creation of walking trails, support toward recreational facilities, or the purchase of equipment for firefighters.

After years of working positively with the Alliance Pipelines, the Town of Mayerthorpe has a good sense for the Northern Gateway Pipelines team. We see them as good potential partners, committed as we are to the community for the long term.

Equally important, as a Town that’s never had any sort of problem with any of our already-existing pipeline infrastructure, We also see pipelines as safe, environmentally beneficial and economically important infrastructure for our region and for our country.

Kate Patrick is Mayor of Mayerthorpe, Alberta. She owns a nearby farm with her husband.

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