Concerns raised over Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project

District of Hope and FVRD apply for intervenor status at NEB hearings

Hope has applied for intervenor status in the upcoming National Energy Board hearings for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project.

The district wants to ensure the municipality’s water resources are protected, and in particular the area of Nestlé Waters.

“We have an interest in what exactly they are going to be doing coming through our community,” said Coun. Peter Robb. “(We applied) basically to keep us and staff well-informed of all the updates and knowledge.”

Trans Mountain maintains about 16.7 kilometres of pipeline within the District of Hope, and any leak or spill of the existing pipeline could pose serious risk to the water supply. The existing pipeline is just feet away from a natural spring on Nestlé’s property and 175 metres from the east Kawkawa Lake well. It is also 219 metres away from the district’s Green well.

The proposed new route involves utilizing the area next to or including the existing Spectra Energy right-of-way south of Othello Road, or along Othello Road itself. The exact route is yet to be confirmed but the proposal should see the new pipeline placed further away from Nestlé and Hope’s two wells. The district would prefer the new pipeline constructed along the most southern route.

The NEB hearings are slated to take place in Calgary later this year and could cost Hope upwards of $2,000 to attend and present. The NEB will consider the appropriateness of the general route and land requirements for the project, as well as the contingency planning for spill, accidents or malfunctions during construction and operation of the project.

Individuals and groups directly affected by Kinder Morgan’s expansion project had until noon on Feb. 12 to submit an application to act either as intervenor, or to provide written comment, to the NEB during their review of Kinder Morgan’s facilities application.

The company has applied to twin their existing 60-year-old Edmonton to Burnaby pipeline at a cost of $5.4 billion, nearly tripling Kinder Morgan’s carrying capacity along the route.

At a special Fraser Valley Regional District board meeting last Tuesday night, directors debated what pipeline issues are of most concern to them, the cost of applying for intervenor status, and whether such an application would overlap with those that member municipalities are making on their own.

FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz said the regional district is seeking intervenor status in order to get their foot in the door.

“It’s basically a placeholder so that if the discussions that we had with Kinder Morgan seemed to be contentious, we would have an opportunity to defend them in front of NEB. That’s the main advantage to having intervenor status,” said Gaetz.

The regional district has so far allocated a week’s of staff time, worth $5,000, to prepare.

If more funds are needed, staff will return to the board for approval.

“In the meantime, behind all of this, we have been meeting together with Kinder Morgan, and talking to Kinder Morgan, and expressing our points of view,” said Gaetz.

“We feel that they have been receptive to our concerns, but we’ll still keep our toe in the door to make sure so that that opportunity doesn’t close on us,”

– with files from Alina Konevski