BC’s election results won’t make Kinder Morgan Happy
Vancouver and Burnaby have long been identified as “lightning rods” of opposition, where the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion is a central election issue.
The 1,150 kilometre (714 mile) pipeline carries oil from Alberta’s tar sands to Westridge Terminal, in Burnaby.
There was a “spill” in 2007 after a backhoe operator accidentally ruptured the system. Approximately 1,572 barrels of “heavily blended synthetic crude oil” poured out into the residential area, Kask Creek and the foreshore of Burrard Inlet.
“Approximately 95% (210m3) of the released oil was recovered,” Trans Mountain claims on its website.
As regards the proposed expansion, Mayor Derek Corrigan wrote, “The economic value of any taxes Kinder Morgan would pay would not offset the negative economic impacts to other businesses and the significant permanent limitations the pipeline right-of-way would put on land-use opportunities. Burnaby has long-term plans – developed with our citizens – for town centre, transportation, residential and recreational developments. All would be severely negatively impacted by the pipeline, tank farm and docks.”
Last September, Kinder Morgan was ejected from a Burnaby park where it was going to do a feasibility study.
“We were prepared to allow them to access this conservation land for non-invasive work that could be repaired over time, but absolutely not to do what they arrived this morning to do – to cut down trees to create helicopter landing pads and sites for drilling bore holes on this protected land,” Corrigan explained in a press release.
The National Energy Board intervened, telling Burnaby to stand aside.
So Burnaby and Vancouver residents stood vigil on Burnaby Mountain, waiting for the pipeline work crew to return.
When the Trans Mountain crew arrived on October 29, they came armed with cameras. Five of the protesters were hauled into court. On November 14, B.C. Supreme Court granted Kinder Morgan an injunction to stop protesters from blocking the company’s survey work.
The pipeline company has filed a separate action seeking millions of dollars in damages from the protesters, for time lost.
Meanwhile there are questions about the legality of the NEB ruling that gave Trans Mountain access to Burnaby Mountain. The NEB has never overridden municipal bylaws before and, according to city lawyer Greg McDade, there is nothing in the NEB Act that gives it the authority to do so.
According to the Tyee, “Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said part of the reason the company ran the ads was to counter Corrigan’s anti-expansion campaign.
They did not stop over 69% of Burnaby’s voters from re-electing Mayor Derek Corrigan.
These results are almost identical to a poll, from last June, in which 70% of the respondents said they supported the mayor in his resistance to Kinder Morgan.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson described the pipeline as a defining issue of his campaign.
He is not alone. When the North Shore Leader polled 28 of the council and mayoralty candidates on the other side of Burrard Inlet, all but one expressed opposition. The exception was a North Vancouver candidate who refused to answer.
The proposed pipeline expansion could result in a seven-fold increase of tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet. There are already 80 vessels passing the City of Vancouver and scenic Stanley Park. This number could go up to 400, with each tanker carrying up to 580,000 barrels of diluted bitumen.
“I hear every day from Vancouverites about their concerns with more oil tankers here — it’s a big top-of-mind issue and the No. 1 threat to the city’s well-being,” said Mayor Robertson.
His principal rival, NPA leader Kirk LaPointe, did not take a public position.
Robertson and six “Vision Vancouver” councillors have been returned.
So has Adrianne Carr of the Green party, who ranked first in the polls.
Vision Vancouver councilors Kerry Jang, Raymond Louie, Heather Deal, Andrea Reimer, Tim Stevensen, Geoff Meggs have all been re-elected.
This is never-the-less one less Vision councilor than there was prior to the election.
The NPA picked up an extra seat. George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball have both been re-elected and Melissa De Genoa is joining them.
In a press release that was issued shortly after mid-night, the Dogwood Initiative reported that Mayor Lisa Helps in Victoria and Mayor Barb Desjardins in Esquimalt were also elected on platforms of opposition to Kinder Morgan.
According to that press release:
“Coastal communities in particular are worried about the risks of a diluted bitumen spill, but this goes beyond a ‘not in my back yard’ attitude,” said Kai Nagata, Energy and Democracy director at Dogwood Initiative. “Local governments across the province feel shut out of major decisions. They’ve certainly lost faith in the integrity of the National Energy Board.”
(The ECOreport radio program has interviewed three interveners on this subject: Burnaby’s lawyer Greg McDade, Green MLA Andrew Weaver and Former BC Hydro CEO Marc Elieson)
At the Union of BC Municipalities convention in September, an emergency resolution brought forward by the City of Victoria was adopted with overwhelming support – calling on the province to pull out of the NEB process and establish a credible, independent provincial review.
A resolution from the Sunshine Coast Regional District was also adopted, calling for comprehensive environmental and health-impact reviews of thermal coal transport by rail and barge.
“These election results only reinforce the disconnect between what local people want and what the federal government is forcing on our communities,” said Beyond Coal campaign director Laura Benson. “With elections out of the way, local representatives now have four years to push back.”
Overall voter turnout increased in six key municipalities where Dogwood volunteers knocked on doors and telephoned supporters.
- Turnout in Vancouver rose from 34.6 per cent to 42.6 per cent
- Turnout in Esquimalt rose from 18.0 per cent to 30.1 per cent
- Turnout in Victoria rose from 26.3 per cent to 35.4 per cent
- Turnout in Burnaby rose from 23.3 per cent in 2011 to 28.9 per cent
- Turnout in New Westminster rose from 24.2 per cent to 28.5 per cent
- Turnout in Courtenay rose from 28.4 per cent to 31.0 per cent
- Turnout in Sooke held steady at a respectable 41.5 per cent
The Dogwood Initiative registered as a third party campaigner; Kinder Morgan denies it was campaigning.
We will never know how much the pipeline company spent because Elections BC said it did not need to register.
Photographs above, in descending order:
- Looking North from Kitsilano in Vancouver – Courtesy Leeann Cafferata, CC By SA, 2.0
- Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan interviewed by local news at protest against Kinder Morgan – Courtesy Mark Klotz. CC By SA, 2.0
- Creative Mornings Vancouver with Mayor Gregor Robertson – Photo Credit Trevor Jansen. CC By SA, 2.0
- People’s Climate March in Vancouver, September 21, 2014 – Courtesy Chris Yakimov, CC By SA, 2.0