Truth spills out of closed-door Fredericton Council meeting concerning Energy East Letter

It's another bad week for TransCanada in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The lack of transparency and accountability from TransCanada with the citizens of Fredericton has now spilled over to our City Council. And it is right in the middle of municipal elections in Fredericton and across New Brunswick.

Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside and City Council sent a Letter of Support for the proposed TransCanada Energy East Pipeline Project to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and kept it secret from the citizens of Fredericton.

We understand that the Mayor and Council of the City of Edmundston also received a request for a Letter of Support for Energy East but they rejected it. “The Mayor [of Edmundson] answered that they were approached, that there was some discussion about whether or not to support the pipeline, but that no support letter has been written.  The Mayor did not mention who it was that made the request, the Municipalities Association or the Chamber of Commerce.”

The Fredericton chapter of the Council of Canadians has launched a ‘Publicly Take Back The Letter’ campaign asking Fredericton City Council to publicly withdraw the letter before or at their Monday, April 25th meeting @ 7:30pm, the final Regular Meeting of City Council prior to the May 9th municipal election.

People are encouraged to attend the City Council meeting this Monday evening, April 25th @ 7:30PM City at Fredericton City Hall, Queen at York Street. We will simply sit quietly in the public gallery and watch to see if Mayor and Council publicly take back the Energy East letter they sent in secret to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  A Facebook Event Page has been set up to help spread the word -  Publicly Take Back The Letter

This is the latest in the chronology of the proposed Energy East project in Fredericton:

Nov. 4, 2014 - Fredericton townhall meeting against Energy East draws 300 people

Feb. 25, 2015 - TransCanada has repeatedly refused to hold a public meeting on Energy East in Fredericton. However, it has held at least two presentations on the proposed Energy East pipeline to the business community here in Fredericton: (i) on March 17, 2014 to the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Fredericton North Rotary Club and Mayor Brad Woodside, and (ii) on March 17, 2015 to the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.

March 17, 2015 - More than a year has passed since TransCanada was publicly asked to conduct a computer spill analysis study to determine the impact of a Energy East pipeline spill on the drinking water of Fredericton.  To date, TransCanada has repeatedly not answered these questions:

- Where will a spill in the Nashwaak River end up?

- Will computer modelling be conducted to predict whether or not toxic chemicals from an oil spill would reach the base of the Nashwaak River, the critical location of windows into the Fredericton aquifer?

February 8, 2016 - The Wolastoq Grand Council declared their opposition to the Energy East pipeline.  The pipeline would traverse their unceded traditional homeland through the Saint John River watershed, including the headwaters of the Nashwaak River which is north of Fredericton.

April 5, 2016 - The Fredericton chapter of the Council of Canadians learn that their City Council sent a Letter of Support for Energy East to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  “The City of Fredericton was approached by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce for a letter of support in relation to Trans Canada’s Energy East Project; and a letter was sent by Mayor Woodside, on behalf of City Council, to the Prime Minister of Canada confirming support.” (City Clerk’s Office, e-mail received April 05, 2016)

April 6, 2016 - The public learns that the drinking water in Edmundston, Saint Leonard, Saint Anne de Madawaska, Grand Falls, Cambridge Narrows, Hampton, Fredericton and Saint John, New Brunswick would be at risk from an Energy East pipeline spill.

A detailed analysis of the proposed Energy East pipeline route shows that across Canada the project could lead to the contamination of crucial sources of drinking water not identified in TransCanada’s application. Along the entire route, over 5 million Canadians from Manitoba to Saint John rely on drinking water from sources within spill range and downstream of the Energy East pipeline.

“Our City Councillors have a duty of care to ask about the risks and impacts of this export tar sands pipeline proposed to cross over or beside our rivers, bays, and drinking water supplies,” says Garry Guild, a member from the Fredericton chapter of the Council of Canadians.

 “We are disappointed to learn that our City Council approved and sent this Letter of Support for this very controversial issue in the absence of an open and transparent debate during a regular Council meeting in which Frederictonians are allowed to attend,” says Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy, a member of the Fredericton chapter of the Council of Canadians. “This is more than just about a pipeline.  It's about public trust and the integrity of our elected officers. Decisions affecting the public being made secretly behind closed doors have no place in 2016."

We know that Fredericton Councillors John MacDermid, Greg Ericson and Randy Dickinson voted against this secret letter.  Councillor MacDermid said,  "For the record, I was just one of the city councillors who voted against endorsing the letter. I was never comfortable with the process about which the letter came to fruition and it never should have been voted on in a closed session of council. To be clear, my vote against sending the letter stems primarily from the lack of transparency on the part of TransCanada Pipelines and their refusal to have meaningful engagement with Fredericton City Council or the residents of Fredericton to address our very real concerns. From a governance point of view, and specifically in this case, it is difficult to make decision when one party is unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue. I look forward to the turnout on Monday evening and will do my best to ensure this is brought up at the city council meeting."

“With impending municipal elections [Monday, May 9th), the citizens of Fredericton need to vote for a Mayor and Councillors who are both accountable and transparent.  This is how they gain our trust”, says Joan Green, a member of the Fredericton chapter of the Council of Canadians.

FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE: Publicly Take Back The Letter

HASHTAG: #TakeBackTheLetter

MESSAGING: Say NO to the pipedreams of extreme fossil fuels.  Say YES to local, diversified job creation right now.


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