The Montreal Metropolitan Community, headed by Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, recently announced that its 82 member municipalities were opposed to the Energy East pipeline that would transfer oil from Alberta, through Quebec, to New Brunswick.
But Hampstead mayor William Steinberg and Côte St. Luc acting mayor Dida Berku, who both head municipalities close to the CP railyard, say they were not consulted before the MMC announced the “consensus” opposition to the pipeline.
One alternative to pipelines is transport by rail, but a derailment of an oil-transporting train killed 47 people in Lac Mégantic in 2013.
Steinberg told resident Sonny Surkes Monday night that Hampstead was not consulted by the MMC. The mayor added that council does not yet have an official opinion on the issue yet, but that he personally agrees with the federal and Quebec Liberal governments’ position.
“There must be appropriate environmental assessments and safeguards for any pipeline, and we must look at both the economic and environmental issues, and then come to a decision,” Steinberg said. “I also believe this is not really a municipal issue, certainly not for Hampstead, no pipeline is going under our town.”
Councillor Leon Elfassy pointed out that the town has expressed itself before on issues affecting higher levels of government. Steinberg responded that this is for council to decide.
Berku told The Suburban Tuesday morning that Côte St. Luc was also not consulted by the MMC.
“In fact, I did get quite a few emails and reactions from residents who were surprised, saying ‘Coderre doesn’t speak for us because we have oil by rail, we’re concerned about it and would like to see more oil by pipeline.’”
Berku said council, while it is concerned about transport of oil by rail, agrees with the federal Liberal stance on the pipeline issue.
“We support the new federal standards for review, which combines stricter environmental assessment with community consultation.”
Berku said it is likely less expensive to transport oil by pipeline.
On the other hand, “these are not easy environmental choices. It’s not always clear which is the safest. …. The pipeline will obviously not run through Côte St. Luc.”