Map of Northern Gateway pipeline route.

Pipeline poll shows most against Northern Gateway

Public opinion crystallizing against Enbrdge project, survey finds

A new poll has found 61 per cent of B.C. residents oppose Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, while support is at 35 per cent.

And the Insights West online survey found opponents of the project are more entrenched – 38 per cent are strongly opposed, compared to just 11 per cent who strongly support the new route for crude oil across northwestern B.C. to Kitimat.

“The negative side has continued to build momentum,” said Insights West president Steve Mossop, citing a hardening of opinions against Enbridge in a series of polls since last spring.

“Opinions are becoming much stronger,” he said, likening the Enbridge issue to the crystallization of public opinion against logging in Clayoquot Sound in the 1990s.

“It’s a bit of a snowball effect,” Mossop said. “And it becomes very difficult to change a very entrenched position like that.”

It’s a different story in Alberta, where the survey, which polled 512 B.C. residents and 562 Albertans, found 75 per cent support for the project.

Respondents in both provinces agreed by large margins that the pipeline will create new jobs, support economic growth and create new capital investment.

But environmental concerns – the risk of ocean spills as well as pipeline construction impacts on land – trumped the economic benefits for most B.C. residents.

“Even the negative side recognize the benefits,” Mossop said. “They’re just not being persuaded that the down sides are worth the risks.”

Men in both provinces were more likely than women to support building the pipeline.

The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 per cent 19 times out of 20.

For more on this or other Insights West polls, see www.insightswest.com.