Your Insights on the Northern Gateway Pipeline

BC and Alberta residents stand at two ends of the spectrum on the Northern Gateway pipeline: the vast majority (75%) of Alberta residents support the pipeline, while in BC, 61% oppose it.

Vancouver, BC / Calgary, AB – A recent Insights West online poll surveyed 512 British Columbians and 562 Albertans on Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and found that Alberta residents are more than twice as likely (75%) to support the project than their West Coast neighbours are (35%).

Residents in both provinces are nearly universally aware of the proposed pipeline, which is set to run from Northern Alberta to the coast of BC. Awareness is slightly higher in BC (96%) than in Alberta (87%). Among those who are aware, familiarity with the pipeline is also higher among British Columbians – 87% of BC adults are very or somewhat familiar with the pipeline compared to 77% of Albertan adults. In fact, twice as many British Columbians say they are “very familiar” with the pipeline (20% vs. 10% among Albertans). BC residents’ awareness and familiarity with the issue remains unchanged from July 2012 when Insights West conducted a similar survey with 406 BC adults. In both provinces, awareness and familiarity with the Northern Gateway pipeline is higher among men than women. In Alberta, older residents aged 55+ are more likely to be aware and familiar with the pipeline compared to their younger counterparts.

BC and Alberta residents not only differ in their awareness and familiarity with the issue; they vary significantly in their level of support and opposition. Albertans are significantly more likely to be in favour of the proposed pipeline than British Columbians. Three quarters (75%) of Albertans support the initiative (30% strongly support, 45% somewhat support) compared to only 35% of British Columbians (11% strongly support, 24% somewhat support). Support among BC residents is only marginally higher than in July 2012, when 31% of BC adults said they strongly or somewhat supported the initiative.

More than three-in-five (61%) BC adults oppose the pipeline (38% strongly oppose, 23% somewhat oppose). This contrasts with just 18% of Albertans who oppose the pipeline (9% strongly oppose, 9% somewhat oppose). Only 4% of British Columbians and 7% of Albertans are unsure if they support or oppose the project.

While there is no significant difference in support between Albertans who are familiar with the pipeline and those who are not, British Columbians who are very or somewhat familiar with the pipeline are more likely to oppose the pipeline – 63% vs. 44% among those who are not very or not at all familiar.

Interestingly, males in both BC and Alberta are more likely to support the pipeline than females. In Alberta, support is also higher among those aged 55+ compared to 18-34 and 35-54 year olds.

“The Northern Gateway pipeline is a controversial issue that divides Western Canadians,” says Jane Ha-Trapp, Vice President of Insights West. “Given the expected economic benefits for Alberta, it is not surprising that Albertans are more likely to support the Northern Gateway pipeline than British Columbians. It will be interesting to see if Enbridge will be able to move those who somewhat oppose the pipeline to the support side, and convince them that the proposed benefits outweigh the potential concerns.”

Respondents were asked a series of agree/disagree statements to determine the perceived benefits and concerns for the Northern Gateway pipeline. Given that support for the pipeline is significantly higher in Alberta, it is not surprising that Albertans are more likely to see the benefits of the pipeline than British Columbians. Despite the significantly higher levels of agreement among Albertans, both Alberta and BC residents are most likely to agree the Northern Gateway pipeline will create new jobs (94% in AB vs. 85% in BC), supports economic growth (92% vs. 78%) and will create new capital investment (93% vs. 77%). Alberta and BC residents are least likely to agree that the pipeline will benefit First Nations communities along the pipeline (72% vs. 40%).

Interestingly, those who are opposed to the pipeline still recognize many of the pipeline’s proposed benefits. The 18% of Albertans who oppose the project are most likely to agree that the pipeline will support economic growth (78%) while British Columbians who oppose the pipeline (61% of respondents) are most likely to see the creation of new jobs as a benefit (76%).

The biggest concerns British Columbians and Albertans have about the pipeline are generally consistent, although BC residents are more likely to agree with potential concerns. The greatest concerns relate to expected risk of oil spill (93% in BC vs. 74% in AB), expected increase in oil tanker traffic at Kitimat and through the passage (91% vs. 85%), impact of pipeline construction on the environment (88% vs. 72%) and Enbridge has a history of incidents including oil spills and poor pipeline assembly (87% vs. 65%).

In Alberta, even those who support the pipeline, (75% of respondents) have strong concerns about the expected increase in oil tanker traffic at Kitimat and through the passage (83%). In BC, the 35% who support the project have the greatest concern for risk of oil spill (84%) and expected increase in oil tanker traffic at Kitimat and through the passage (79%).

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis, through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary, and has seven full-time, and five part-time employees.

Results are based on an online study conducted January 14-20, 2013, among 512 British Columbians and 562 Albertans aged 18+ who are Your Insights panel members. YourInsights.ca is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for BC and Alberta for age, gender and region. Results have a margin of error of +/-4.3 percentage points for BC and +/- 4.1 percentage points for Alberta, 19 times out of 20. To view the detailed data tabulations, click here.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West
778-891-4762
stevemossop@insightswest.com

Jane Ha-Trapp
Vice-President, Insights West
403-860-5277
janehatrapp@insightswest.com