My name is Emily Ferguson and I am the sole individual behind Line 9 Communities. I graduated from McMaster University with Honours BA Geography & Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Science.
I first heard about Line 9 at a climate conference in Ottawa in 2012. My interest led me to attend information sessions in Hamilton and surrounding area in early 2013. At one meeting in particular, I asked for a Line 9 information package which had been provided to Council. Although there were extra packages after the meeting, an Enbridge official denied my request and asked “Who are you working for”? The Enbridge team then proceeded to ask myself and a fellow community member for our driver’s licenses and said they would mail a package. Something about the encounter just didn’t feel right and we walked away without the information.
That was the turning point. I went home that night with so many questions. Why was I being denied access to information at a public meeting? What were they trying to hide? Why didn’t they want me to know where the pipeline was?
So I took it upon myself to map Line 9. Throughout an unimaginable number of late nights, I compiled satellite images, integrity data and publicly available information to create detailed maps of the 639 km pipeline.
I did it because they said no.
I did it because I felt the need to inform the public.
If Enbridge wasn’t going to adequately consult … who would?
I contacted multiple City Counselors along the line and sat down over coffee with many to discuss the proposal. The lack of information provided to municipalities shocked me. I proceeded to canvass neighbourhoods along the line to poll residents and provide details about open houses and how to get involved.
Line 9 Communities gained instant attraction. Although I blogged about the application, past spills, and changes to federal legislation, viewers wanted one thing … MAPS! Essentially they wanted to know, where is the pipeline and why don’t I know about it?
During the map creation, I found out that Line 9 crosses right through the small community where I grew up. The pipeline is located directly behind my public school playground in Glenburnie, ON, just north of Kingston. It also passes behind Seneca College in Toronto which I attended for three years. I had literally been living beside the line my entire life … and didn’t even know it existed. All of a sudden, things became very personal.
I felt compelled to learn everything I could about the project. My biggest supporter along the way was Eva Simkins – my Grandma. Although diagnosed with cancer in 2009, two weeks of radiation treatments gave us the gift of four extremely memorable years. We traveled, talked politics, did puzzles, celebrated, smiled and laughed. Through it all though, I knew there was that big question in her mind. Why me?
I wondered the same thing.
She held my hand as she peacefully passed away at sunrise on Earth Day 2013 … just three days after I applied to be an NEB Intervenor by her bed side in hospital.
She now joins my Grandpa at their memorial … less than 600m from the pipeline.
In my opinion, we accept the status quo far too often. At a Line 9 open house, an Enbridge official told me, “if we say it’s safe, it’s safe”. But I must question the safety of this pipeline. At almost 40 years old and only meeting the engineering standards of 1971, why is the NEB even considering the application? Enbridge has cited over 1400 integrity digs (cracks, corrosion, dents) along the line in 2013/2014 alone! They have also acknowledged that their in-line inspection tools do not detect all defects and that their Edmonton control center cannot sense pin hole leaks. With the current application before the Board, Enbridge is proposing to ship Bakken crude and diluted bitumen laced with drag reducing agent (DRA) chemicals – which include known carcinogens such as benzene – through our communities.
Why is cancer becoming so prevalent? What are we exposing ourselves to? Whose interest is being served? What is at stake? How healthy is our water, our land, our air? What kind of future will our decisions of today bring?
I have never had any malicious intent towards Enbridge. As a citizen of Canada and student of environmental politics, I have always been interested in energy issues, climate change, and a sustainable future for our planet. I believe in the strength of communities working together to achieve great things.
My mission through this entire process has been to raise awareness and promote a community discussion. We are living in a critical time. Will we continue to accept the status quo, or will we start asking the tough questions and demand a better future?
Your opinions are valuable … You have a voice … It’s time to stand up and be heard!
Questions / Comments / Suggestions?
Twitter: @L9Communities & @eco_emily