By GORD YOUNG, The Nugget
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:07:41 EDT PM
A controversial contract clause environmentalists claim would have prevented the Town of Mattawa from publicly discussing pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. will be removed from an agreement for a community donation from the firm.
David Burke, acting administrator clerk-treasurer for the town, confirmed Wednesday both sides have verbally agreed the clause will be removed. Burke said the town is expecting to receive a revised agreement from TransCanada, hopefully before council’s next meeting July 28.
Removal of the clause was announced Tuesday during packed council meeting attended by Mattawa residents as well as those from North Bay and elsewhere.
The agreement between TransCanada and the town is for a $30,000 donation from the firm toward the purchase of new rescue vehicle to be used to provide services to a pipeline station in nearby Deux Rivieres. The deal dates back to 2012, but was never formalized.
The clause, which has raised the ire of environmentalists states “The Town of Mattawa will not publicly comment on TransCanada’s operations or business projects.”
Mattawa is along the the proposed route of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline. And one group – Environmental Defence – has described the clause as a “gag order.”
Both TransCanada and Mattawa Mayor Dean Backer have indicated the agreement was never intended to limit the town’s ability to participate in discussions regarding the pipeline project.
I have been told by the company support for the emergency equipment is part of their on-going Community Investment Program and in no way impedes Mattawa, neighbouring communities or residents from expressing their views or concerns about Energy East or other Trans Canada matters directly to Trans Canada or to the National Energy Board,” said Backer in a recent letter to the editor. “In the end, the Mattawa Fire Department is now in a much better position to respond to any emergency rescue calls in our region including the Trans Canada gas compressing substation as agreed to.”
A TransCanada spokesman indicated in an earlier interview the firm will, if necessary, amend such contracts to remove the clause on a go-forward basis to include language that ensures communities know they retain the full right to participate in an open and free dialogue regarding its projects.