The public hearings into the Enbridge Northern Gateway project are now no longer open to the public.
Here is the statement form the Joint Review Panel (JRP) from the National Energy Board.
Due to recent information concerning public safety associated with the Kelowna oral statement hearing on 28 January, the Joint Review Panel has changed the format.
The Panel has become aware of information regarding safety concerns if the hearing continues as originally planned. As a result, the Panel is restricting the hearing room to oral statement presenters, their guest and the media.
The Panel will provide a room for the public to hear the audio broadcast in a different location. Please see the Panel’s website for updates. The Panel is committed to providing a safe and secure venue for all of its proceedings.
A live audio broadcast of the hearing will be available through the Panel’s website.
Transcripts of the hearing will be posted to the Panel’s website. The Panel regrets any inconvenience this may cause to those who were planning to attend the hearing.
One of the organizers trying to get the public to come to the hearing is in shock.
"How does the JRP (Joint Review Panel) justify turning a public hearing into a closed meeting.? The public is owed an explanation," says Dianne Varga.
Varga is upset that no one at the National Energy Board is talking about why they closed the meeting to the public.
"What information' do they have? What proof or reasons does the JRP have to make this move?"
Castanet tried four phone numbers attached to the press release to contact the JRP. All calls went to message machines and no one has returned our request for information.
"I can't predict what happens on Monday," she says. "But what would have been just protesters on Monday, will now be disgruntled protesters on Monday."
There will be audio available to those who want to listen, but no public will be able to get into the meetings. The Panel will provide a room for the public to hear the audio broadcast of the Kelowna oral statements on 28 January at the Holiday Inn Express Kelowna Conference Centre 2429 Highway 97 North, starting at 10 a.m.
"It's only going to be presenters only, so these public meetings are now absolutely restricted to the public. This is outrageous!" The public is owed a proper explanation why this is happening."
Varga is expecting a large turnout.
"I do know that one charter bus is coming from Nelson, people will be coming from Boundary, Penticton, Lillooet, but now that this kind of news is going public I suppose the protest will now be larger with the added dimension of the public hearing now not being public."
The hearings are scheduled for the Sandman Hotel & Suites, 2130 Harvey Ave. on Monday Jan. 28 Starting at 10:00 a.m.