Former NHL hockey player Scott Niedermayer (R) is seen with Peter Ladner (L) and Grand Chief Edward John at the World Wildlife Fund's Campaign Canadians for the Great Bear in Vancouver, British Columbia May 1, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Ben Nelms
FORT McMURRAY, Alta. -- Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medallist Scott Niedermayer is bringing his competitive ways that brought him prowess on the ice into a new arena - environmental activism.
Niedermayer, who played in the NHL for 18 seasons and retired from prof hockey in 2010, announced Tuesday that he intends to join forces with the World Wildlife Fund and British Columbia's Coastal First Nations, in a campaign called "Canadians for the Great Bear."
The campaign is a coalition of environmentalists and First Nations groups opposing Enbridge's controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project.
The $5.5-billion project, which focuses on the construction of two 1,170-km pipelines linking Alberta's oilsands to tankers on the Pacific Coast bound for oil-thirsty markets in Asia and the United States, is currently in community hearings.
Supporters of the project argue the pipeline will create thousands of jobs and open Canada to lucrative global energy markets, funnelling billions of dollars into the national economy.
Opponents argue transporting millions of barrels of crude oil through the environmentally sensitive region is too risky. In other words, the possibility of an environmental disaster - which many activists argue is inevitable - is not worth the risk.
The City of Vancouver has raised similar concerns about the Kinder Morgan pipeline, an expansion of an existing pipeline that is expected to triple its current capacity. City council has passed a motion that would force the oil and gas industry to add more to a $1.3-billion fund that would cover the cost of any oil cleanups in the Burrard Inlet, Howe Sound or any other waterway in B.C.
"It's tremendously important to me to be a Canadian for the Great Bear," said Niedermayer in a release, referring to the Great Bear temperate rainforest along the northern coast of B.C.
"The amazing places we have in our country are part of what it means to be Canadian."
The former defenceman, who was born in Edmonton but grew up in B.C.'s Kootenays region, was joined by former Vancouver councillor Peter Ladner; Robyn Allan, former CEO of the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia; and Grand Chief Edward John of the Tl'azt'en Nation.
Campaign members will tour the country speaking about the environmental, social and economic concerns over the pipeline project.
"The risks of an oil tanker or pipeline spill far outweigh any potential rewards," John said. "The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has united First Nations across the province to stop this pipeline and increased oil tanker traffic on the coast."
This is not the first time Niedermayer has opposed a project for environmental reasons. He also opposed the construction of the Jumbo Glacier Resort, a 104-hectare ski resort near the foot of Jumbo Mountain and Jumbo Glacier in the Rocky Mountains. The B.C. government approved the project in March.