Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

New poll shows pipeline and tanker concerns rank higher than health care for most British Columbians

September 18, 2012

VANCOUVER, B.C. ─ In a poll released today by Living Oceans Society, B.C. residents living along the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline route ranked pipeline and tanker issues virtually neck-and-neck with the economy as the most important issue facing the province today and more important than health care, which took the number three spot.

“It’s very unusual to see a single issue top health care or come so close to tying with the economy as the most pressing issue in B.C.,” said Bob Penner, president of Vancouver-based Strategic Communications, who conducted the polling in August. “This has become a critical issue in B.C.”

“We can see that opposition to the pipeline is growing even within federal Conservative voting base,” Penner added. “Thirty-seven percent of Conservative voters in B.C. are opposed to the Enbridge pipeline and 26 percent are opposed to the Kinder Morgan proposal. The Conservatives have already lost support in B.C. since the last election. This trend may continue if they keep pushing for these pipelines.”

“The real surprise in the regional poll is the level of opposition to Kinder Morgan, a relatively recent proposal,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director of Living Oceans Society. “Concern about oil spills from pipelines and tankers is the number one reason people are taking it so seriously. Over half of the respondents said they were opposed to the new Kinder Morgan pipeline and the opposition seems to be hardening from previous polls, with 34.3 percent saying they are ‘strongly opposed.’”

The poll included two distinct samples—one canvassed federal ridings along the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline route, representing approximately 60 percent of B.C.’s population; the other was B.C.-wide. The B.C.-wide poll showed Premier Clark’s five-point plan for pipeline approval was not persuasive to poll respondents—only 30 percent said they’d be more likely to support the Enbridge proposal if B.C. were to receive royalties, while 59 percent said that either made no difference to their opinion, or would make them more inclined to oppose.

“Premier Clark’s attempt to buy support for Enbridge appears to have little chance of success, even if her terms were met, as strong opponents of the pipeline now outnumber strong supporters by over 7:1,” said Wristen. “All levels of government should listen to what British Columbians are really saying on this issue: we will not accept the certainty of oil spills and the risk that they will cause irreparable harm to people or the environment.”

Support for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal seems to have plummeted from a high of 48 percent reported by Ipsos-Reid in January 2012, to only 19 percent in the Strategic Communications August B.C.-wide poll.

“Opposition seems to be hardening here, too,” observed Wristen. “Over 60 percent oppose the project and 45 percent of them say they are ‘strongly opposed.’”

For the poll, two different samples were taken:

  • One was fielded online August 8-10 to a representative sample of 1,012 adults province-wide. A randomized survey of this size yields a 2.1 percent margin of error, 19 times out of 20.
  •  The second sample was fielded by telephone August 1-21 to a representative sample of 600 B.C. adults living in federal electoral districts along the Kinder Morgan pipeline route. This poll is considered accurate to +/- 3.5 percent, 19 times out of 20.


Contact Information

Karen Wristen, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society – 604-992-6534

Bob Penner, President, Strategic Communications – 604-681-3030 ext. 29