The Senate Committee was in Fort McMurray on Wednesday to hear concerns on Bill C-69 during a public hearing on energy, environment and natural resources.
Bill C-69 proposes to repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment ACT and retire the National Energy Board.
Alberta and Industry representatives have argued Bill C-69 will kill oilsands development through unending consultation and regulatory challenges.
“We certainly think there’s a need to amend the bill as it’s currently drafted to ensure there’s more clarity in process,” said Kara Flynn, Vice-President, Government and Public Affairs at Syncrude. “We just are trying to avoid any duplication in process, so that we can have one project, one review, one assessment.”
Flynn offered amendments to the Bill regarding the fact that these projects are largely provincially regulated and that the province is respected in this process. Syncrude also wants detailed clarity surrounding the scope and breadth of the proposed consultations.
Mayor Don Scott is a co-lead of the Coalition of Canadian Municipalities for Energy Action, a grassroots effort that arose from municipal concerns over Bill C-69.
“The resource industry, including hydro, mining, forestry and energy, like oil and gas, is the lifeblood of many communities in Canada and we appreciate the opportunity to share that perspective with the Senate committee,” said Mayor Scott.
Mayor Scott and the Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski who is also a co-lead of the Coalition outlined their concerns with the bill.
“Many municipalities echo the concerns we raised today,” said Mayor Sobolewski. “The unintended consequences of the vague and all purpose language in Bill C-69 and its sweeping legislative change are deeply concerning to members of the Coalition.”
Ultimately Mayor Scott says that they want to ensure that this federal legislation doesn’t impede work from getting done on local projects and that municipalities are consulted when large scale projects occur.
This isn’t the first time that the Senate has heard these concerns.
“We’re hearing day after day after day is that this bill will kill resource development projects in this country,” said Senator Black. “We hear from very few organizations or individuals who think this is a good thing, that it’s a good thing to shut down our economy and to affect Fort McMurray and Alberta the way it is, so I’m working very hard as our a number of my colleagues to get this bill completely amended.”
The committee will continue to tour the country to hear concerns about the bill before they make amendments to bring to the House of Commons.