National Energy Board chair Lyne Mercier speaks Monday at the start of a hearing into Trans Mountain pipeline routing realignment through Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Pipeline routing through Chilliwack subject of NEB hearing Monday

City of Chilliwack, WaterWealth Project and local Sto:lo intervenors in the hearing

The National Energy Board (NEB) hearing to consider a realignment of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline route through Chilliwack began Monday with the lawyer for local Indigenous people grilling the company over its communication and consultation.

The City of Chilliwack, the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and local environmental group The WaterWealth Project have long expressed concern about the pipeline’s proximity to the aquifer.

And while the city and WaterWealth have lobbied for the pipeline route to be moved to the Highway 1 corridor, that option is not on the table.

What is up for discussion is a specific 1.8-kilometre stretch of the proposed route of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project (TMEP). Right around Watson elementary, the current route of the existing pipeline diverts from the BC Hydro corridor and cuts through the school yard and several residential properties.

• READ MORE: NEB orders public hearing to discuss pipeline routing and the Chilliwack aquifer

For more than six years Kinder Morgan has been working on the TMEP, which will triple the capacity of the 1,100-kilometre oil pipeline that runs from Alberta to Burnaby. The NEB recommended the federal government approve the project in May, 2016 subject to 157 conditions, which the Liberal government did.

Niggling over routing is among many issues stalling the start of construction, which was set to begin in the Fraser Valley in the fall of 2017. The NEB approved a different route for this stretch to continue in the BC Hydro corridor, but Trans Mountain applied to have the route for the new pipeline run in the existing right-of-way.

Intervenors in the hearing this week in Chilliwack include the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance (STSA), the City of Chilliwack, and Ian Stephen from the WaterWealth Project.

• READ MORE: Pipeline approved but Chilliwack water activists fighting for route change

Jean Teillet, legal counsel for STSA, asked several questions of the eight representatives for Trans Mountain at the hearing about how and when the company provided information and interacted with local Sto:lo people.

Teillet pointed, for example, to evidence the company submitted that suggested on Feb. 28, 2017 a letter was sent to the People of the River Referrals Office, the operational wing of the STSA.

“Can you tell me where and to who that was … information was sent?” Teillet asked.

Phil Symington with Trans Mountain said it was sent to the STSA chair Dave Schaepe, who is also a senior archaeologist for the Sto:lo Nation.

“Sto:lo have no record of that,” Teillet responded.

She asked further why a letter in August about the route was sent to Betty Henry, chief of the Kwaw-Kwaw-Apilt band, which is near Townsend Park north of the Highway.

“May I ask why a letter was sent to a chief of a small Pilalt band about a reroute in the Chilliwack area?”

Broadly, Teillet suggested the company was not communicating with the STSA through the proper channels, and did not seem to be receiving STSA’s responses to Trans Mountain’s questions.

Prior to the questions being asked, Trans Mountain provided some opening statements. TMEP director Greg Toth said the company’s priority wherever possible is to use the existing right-of-way.

He said over this stretch by the city’s drinking water supply, the company has gone over and above requirements with thicker pipe, reduced depth of cover, external leak detection and better markings for the route.

“Chilliwack requested that this whole section be treated as a watercourse crossing,” Toth said, something they agreed to.

He added that 67 of 75 directly affected neighbours have agreements with the company, something he pointed to as evidence the company has consulted well with stakeholders.

“No directly-affected private landowners are intervenors in this proceeding,” he added.

The narrow nature of the hearing means it’s unlikely the City of Chilliwack’s main concerns will be addressed as both routes under consideration run through the aquifer.

The city wanted the NEB to deny the realignment and force Trans Mountain to reassess running the pipeline along the highway.

“The city does not accept the conclusion that the [Trans Canada Highway] route is inferior to the proposed realignment,” Mayor Sharon Gaetz wrote in a letter last year.

There are six other proposed route variances along the entire route, all of which are minor and will not trigger hearings.

BC Hydro engineers have said that with the required separation needed, the new ROW would be quite close to backyards of homes. The company concluded from this that the original ROW is best.

“The best possible alignment for TMEP is this one,” Toth said Monday.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack resident worried pipeline could be in her backyard


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


National Energy Board chair Lyne Mercier speaks Monday at the start of a hearing into Trans Mountain pipeline routing realignment through Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Hope arena turns green for hockey tourney

A second attempt at green ice, with proper ice paint, after food colouring experiment last year

Project Hope celebrates first birthday

Also: lego-mania comes to town, lineup of all-female comedians entertains Friday

New Hope clothing store loses $6,700 after early morning break-in

Broke Buckle Clothing Company owners hold “dirty deeds” sale after loss

Former Fraser-Cascade teacher disciplined for asking student if she was ‘horny’

Boston Bar teacher repeatedly swore, raised his voice and made lewd comments

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

VIDEO: ‘Big time disappointment’ as Vancouver Giants fall to undermanned Kelowna Rockets

Head coach Jason McKee very unhappy with effort in Giants’ regular season home finale

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Delta South MLA calls high-speed rail study a ‘crazy announcement’

‘You’d be better off to move to Seattle’ than to travel to Vancouver from the Lower Mainland

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

SAY WHAT? Readers weigh in on high-speed rail to U.S.

B.C. to contribute $300,000 to a million-dollar business study on the proposed project

Most Read