No More Pipelines

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The grizzly bear is listed as a vulnerable species in Canada because of its sensitivity to human activities and natural events. In 1994, the BC government established the 443 km2 Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, as

... the first area in Canada to be protected specifically for grizzly bears and their habitat. It also represents the first undisturbed estuary of its size to be protected along the north coast of BC. The topography of this land and marine sanctuary is diverse, with rugged peaks towering to 2100 metres above a valley of wetlands, old growth temperate rainforests and a large estuary. An abundance of wildlife shares the area.

The ultimate purpose of this area is to protect the north coast grizzly bear by preserving a part of the ecosystem in which they live. Because of this area's high sensitivity and strict conservation orientation, visitor use is not encouraged. However, a limited amount of controlled viewing is allowed under permit. The hunting of grizzly bear is prohibited and hunting of other wildlife is restricted to areas above 1000 metres elevation.

Source: BC Parks website

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Until word got out, TransCanada Pipelines had been proposing to route its Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project through the Khutzeymateen area, as shown on the map above. Then, following illegal surveying work by the company in a Class A provincial park, word got out. Click to read newspaper articles in the Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail and on Vancouver 24 Hours.

After prodding by the Valhalla Society, BC Parks confirmed on December 2 that TransCanada Pipelines had "withdrawn its application to BC Parks for a park use permit for activities in the Khutzeymateen..." In the same letter, BC Parks indicated that, further east on the proposed route, it was allowing TransCanada to carry out "non-invasive research" within the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park, and that a boundary adjustment for that park was anticipated to accommodate the proposed pipeline. Many people are unaware that, last June, the BC Liberal cabinet enabled a policy to allow for modifications to the boundaries of provincial parks and protected areas, specifically to allow linear disturbances (pipelines and power lines).

Spectra Energy was proposing to route its Westcoast Gas Connector pipeline through the Khutzeymateen complex, as shown on the map below. But at an open house in Hazelton on November 4 (after TransCanada had received bad press), company reps said that the route had never been given serious consideration. Recent mapping available from the BC Environmental Assessment Office shows that Spectra has abandoned the Khutzeymateen route. However, further east on its proposed route, we can expect that Spectra Energy will be requesting a boundary adjustment in the Babine River Corridor Provincial Park to accommodate its proposal. And, with a bill to amend the Park Act that would allow just such adjustments creeping through the BC Legislature, we can expect that BC Parks will grant that adjustment. One step forward, one step back.

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