Truckers noticeably absent from oil sands transportation committee
March 1, 2012
EDMONTON, Alta. – The Alberta government is setting up a new committee to look at current and future transportation needs in the Athabasca oil sands region, though as constituted it doesn’t appear there’ll be any trucking...
EDMONTON, Alta. – The Alberta government is setting up a new committee to look at current and future transportation needs in the Athabasca oil sands region, though as constituted it doesn’t appear there’ll be any trucking industry representation on it.
The committee will be made up of “municipal, industry and provincial representatives” and will “take into account the region’s unique economic and infrastructure needs and the importance of the oil sands to the province’s economy.”
The Athabasca Oil Sands Area Transportation Coordinating Committee will include folks from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the Oil Sands Developers Group, the Alberta Economic Development Authority, the Fort McMurray Airport Authority, the Northern Alberta Development Council, Calgary-Shaw MLA Cindy Ady, and “the Alberta government.”
The Minister responsible for the Oil Sands Secretariat, Jeff Johnson, says the Redford government recognizes “the critical importance of collaboration with stakeholders to make informed decisions on roads, highways, rail, and air in the oil sands area,” and says the committee will be a powerful tool for the region in planning and coordinating the area’s transportation needs going forward. He promises that it “will help support the continued growth of the entire region.”
Yet it appears that when they talk about “industry representatives,” they don’t mean trucking, which could be seen as a major oversight by a committee that’s supposedly charged with making “informed decisions on roads, highways…” What’s up with that?
According to Jessica Spratt, speaking for Alberta Infrastructure, industry input will be solicited. “No individual companies are represented,” she said in an e-mail response to queries, “However, we will engage with industry…as well as impacted stakeholders when necessary to facilitate feedback.”
Spratt says the committee’s makeup was determined from a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed last August by former Premier Ed Stelmach, Lloyd Snelgrove (who was then-President of Treasury Board) and Mayor Melissa Blake of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). While it appears that there’s a reasonable cross section of politicians, civil servants and oil sands folk on board, Don Wilson, executive director of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, wonders why the trucking industry as a whole isn’t represented on the committee as well. “And then there’s us, who represent a good chunk of the transportation industry,” he says, “and we weren’t even asked?”
Wilson says he fired off an e-mail to that effect to the Ministry, but as of this writing he hasn’t received a response.
The new body, which will meet quarterly, is mandated to provide strategic advice and recommendations on streamlining the planning, design, funding, construction and operation of the area’s transportation infrastructure.