Transition Initiative Kenora
Transition Initiative Kenora (TIK) is a community-led response to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy. We're building a more resilient community and improving the quality of life for everyone in Kenora and the Treaty 3 area.

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Justin Trudeau's Water Welcome

350.org is leading an action called the Climate Welcome for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  TIK has participated in this project by sending water samples and messages from Kenora citizens who are concerned about risks to our waterways posed by that climate menace, Energy East.

Here's the description of the Climate Welcome from their website:

From November 5th – 8th, we’ll be creating a kind of ‘Welcoming Committee’ outside the Prime Minister’s residence to welcome the new leader to office and remind him that the people expect leadership on climate change. It’ll be a welcoming party of sorts — which means there will most certainly be some memorable gifts. 

On the first day, we’ll deliver the evidence that confirms we must keep tar sands under the ground. On this day, we’ll present a basket of broken treaties — with documentation of the hundreds of violations of Indigenous rights that have taken place in the tar sands. We’ll also supply the Prime Minister with scientific journal papers that confirm the majority of tar sands must stay in the ground in order to prevent climate catastrophe, along with reports which confirm that reliance on fossil fuels will have devastating impacts on our economy. 

On the second day, we’ll deliver the signatures of thousands of people across the country that have signed a petition against tar sands and pipelines. Any Prime Minister in this country must understand the full magnitude of opposition to the tar sands — and there’s no better way to communicate that than handing over a massive list of the names of the people standing in opposition.

On the third day, November 7th, we’ll shine a spotlight on grassroots movements across Canada that have been fighting to defend their communities and our climate from reckless pipeline expansion. The gifts on this day will provide a powerful image of what’s at risk if these pipelines are built. We’re going to do this by providing water samples from the rivers, lakes and coastlines that tar sands pipelines would put at risk, and from water bodies that have already been poisoned as a result of the tar sands.

 Transition Initiative Kenora sent five bottles of water from locations along the Energy East route through Kenora.

Water samples came from:

1. The south shore of Black Sturgeon Lakes, where Energy East runs just a few hundred feet away, a little uphill from the lake's edge and parallel to Highway 671 (Jones Road).  A breach of the pipeline anywhere in this stretch would contaminate Black Sturgeon, the source of drinking water and recreation for hundreds of seasonal and year-round residents.

2. The north shore of Island Lake.  Energy East runs parallel to Island Lake, just across the other side of Highway 671 (Jones Road) and up on a hillside.  Again, a breach along this section would contaminate Island Lake, where several families have their homes and cottages.  Island Lake flows into Black Sturgeon Lake by way of a small creek, so contamination of Island Lake would inevitably lead to contamination in the Black Sturgeon system, too.

3.  Rabbit Lake.  Home to Kenora's rowing club, and the popular municipal Garrow Beach and park, Rabbit Lake is in the heart of residential Kenora.  The pipeline corridor runs parallel to Rabbit Lake, bisecting many of the residential lots that line the north shore of the lake.  Again, the pipeline corridor is at a higher elevation than the lake, so a breach here would allow oil contaminants to flow downhill into this waterway.

4. Miller Rapids on the Winnipeg River.  From this landing, you can see the major pipeline water crossing of the Winnipeg River just north of Tunnel Island. Water crossings are sites of particular vulnerability to waterways, and this one puts the entire Winnipeg River at risk of a spill akin to that which happened at Kalamazoo, MI.  In July 2010, another decades-old converted natural gas pipeline, Enbridge's Line 6b, ruptured and leaked 843,000 gallons of dilbit into the Kalamazoo River.  A 35-mile stretch of the river was closed to the public for over 2 years where the dilbit had sunk, coating the river bottom.  The disaster required a full scale dredging of the riverbed, and more than $1 billion was expended in trying to clean up the mess. 

5. Lake of the Woods.  The iconic lake provides the drinking water for the City of Kenora, and is the basis of our economy and culture.  The lake is at the core of who we are as residents of the Lake of the Woods region.  Energy East crosses the north end of the Lake of the Woods basin, jeopardizing the lake where it comes closest. While the pipeline does not cross under the lake itself, due to the hydrological pattern of surface and groundwater flows near Shoal Lake, Clearwater Bay, and at the northeastern limits of its hydrological drainage zone just east of town, there is a high risk of contamination of Lake of the Woods should there be a pipeline rupture in any of these areas.

Richard Tolton