Opposition to Northern Gateway Remains High in British Columbia

Most people in British Columbia are against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, and fewer opponents are saying that they would change their mind on the project if the bottom-line requirements set by the BC Government are met, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with CTV has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample of 800 British Columbian adults, two thirds of respondents (68%) claim to have followed news stories related to proposals to build and expand pipelines in the province “very closely” or “moderately closely.”

In the survey, respondents were shown a map with the proposed location of the Enbridge Northern Gateway, a new pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia’s north coast that would export oil on tankers to China. Only nine per cent of British Columbians completely support the proposal (+2 since August), while 27 per cent support it (=), but could change their minds based on economic or environmental considerations.

Across the province, one third of respondents (34%, -1) say they completely oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway, while one-in-four (23%, -1) oppose the proposal, but could change their minds based on economic or environmental considerations.

Respondents who voiced complete or partial opposition to the Northern Gateway were also asked if they would be more likely to endorse the project if any of the five bottom-line requirements outlined by the BC Government are met. A third of opponents to the Northern Gateway say they would be more likely to back the project if world-leading marine oil-spill prevention and response systems are established (32%).

Fewer opponents say they would change their mind if on-land spill response is enhanced to world-leading standards (30%), if clear fiscal and economic benefits to British Columbia are outlined (29%) and if an environmental review process is completed (27%). In these four categories, there is a marked reduction in the proportion of possible switchers since the summer.

British Columbians were also asked about the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling in the north and central coast of British Columbia, which has been in place since the 1970s and is interpreted by some people as a ban on oil tankers in the north and central coast. A third of respondents (33%, -2) believe that oil tankers should “definitely” or “probably” be allowed in BC’s north and central coast, while a majority (53%, +2) would “definitely” or “probably” ban these vessels from the area.

Despite the attention that the Northern Gateway has generated in recent months, only three-in-ten British Columbians (31%) are content with the way Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark has handled the issue, down six points in two months. One third of respondents (34%) are satisfied with the stance taken by Official Opposition and BC New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Adrian Dix. Green Party leader Jane Sterk (18%) and BC Conservative leader John Cummins (10%) post lower numbers.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From October 9 to October 10, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 800 randomly selected British Columbia adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of British Columbia. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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