A letter was sent from Kinder Morgan, the operators of Trans Mountain, on September 25, 2014 to residents in Westridge, Burnaby, British Columbia. In this letter, it explained that it would conduct surveys in the Westridge neighbourhood, as it could not continue surveying its preferred oil pipeline route through Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. This problem was due to an ongoing conflict with the City of Burnaby. It stated that it hoped to work with the City of Burnaby to optimize its route through the city to reduce its impact on what the company describes as its “important neighbours.” The letter stresses that routing its pipeline through Burnaby Mountain is its preferred option and one that is supported by residents in Westridge.
There are a number of problems with this letter. The first problem is the assumption on Kinder Morgan’s part that this pipeline will be approved. Many First Nations, cities, community groups, and other parties have raised concerns about the negative impacts of this proposal. This includes impacts that would negatively affect local economies, human health, democratic rights, ecological, environmental, and climate change effects.
Even though Kinder Morgan claims that it has engaged in communications with communities along its proposed route there are clear signs that in communities along the coast there remain strong concerns. These concerns include the impact of this project on watersheds, the Burrard Inlet, the Strait of Georgia, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Furthermore, Kinder Morgan the current operator of Trans Mountain has not operated in Burnaby for the last 60 years as its letter implies.
Its proposal to run its pipeline through City of Burnaby streets and backyards has always been a part of its proposal and continues to be. It has never withdrawn its proposed route through the community of Westridge. It has merely repositioned it as a secondary route from a preferred route. No one in the community or the City of Burnaby has proposed that Kinder Morgan’s pipeline be routed through city streets and backyards of residents. This proposal has been made by Kinder Morgan for the exclusive interests of the company.
The company claims that it has “heard loud and clear [that] many of our neighbours in the area would prefer to see our new proposed pipeline routed through Burnaby Mountain.” It makes this claim without providing any evidence to back its position. It further claims that it would like to explore deactivating the existing pipeline through the Westridge neighbourhood. As far as I am aware, this position does not appear in its current proposal before the National Energy Board. Is this a commitment from the company and where is it stated in submissions to the National Energy Board? Residents of Westridge should be aware that Kinder Morgan has always considered its routing through Westridge as a viable option and that nothing in the recently released letter alters that position. The company states that it “cannot emphasize strongly enough this is not our preferred option” but actions by the company including giving notice of crews being dispatched to the neighbourhood indicate the opposite.
The letter states that it is “yet to receive constructive feedback” from the City of Burnaby about routing based on the City’s preference. The elected Mayor and council of the City of Burnaby are on record as opposing this proposal. This opposition has not been acknowledged in this letter. The company communicates indirectly with the city through legal counsel as its relationship has broken down due to this proposal. The company wishes to “reinforce our rights” but does not acknowledge that residents have the right to safe streets, a healthy environment, unpolluted beaches, protected conservation areas, accessible parks, and democratic and transparent regulatory processes.
It is my hope that Kinder Morgan engages constructively with Tsleil-Waututh Nation, other First Nations, the City of Burnaby, and other municipalities and does not use residents to advance its current proposal.
This work by Calvin Taplay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.