BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – The National Energy Board has ruled in favour of Kinder Morgan Canada in its efforts to bypass Burnaby bylaws that stand in the way of its Trans Mountain expansion project.
The NEB order says the company is not required to comply with two sections of the city’s bylaws as it prepares to begin construction in the area.
The company had filed a motion to have the NEB overrule the bylaws on a constitutional basis, because it claimed the city was delaying a project the federal government had approved.
The NEB says its decision allows the company to start work at its temporary infrastructure site near the Westridge Marine.
Burnaby maintained it was following the standard bylaws process and that the company was to blame for shoddy applications.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan says Kinder Morgan got what it wanted when it went to the NEB and he’s not suprised. “Doesn’t come as a shock to me at all. It’s been apparent from the very beginning that the National Energy Board was going to do whatever it could to expedite Kinder Morgan’s efforts to build this pipeline.”
He adds the city’s next step is to reach out to its legal counsel. “[The NEB] didn’t provide any reasons. It said reasons were going to follow and from a lawyer’s point of view getting reasons is absolutely crucial to being able to decide what you are going to do.”
Corrigan says they’re not giving up. “We are stil, in the federal court of appeal appealing the original decision and we may appeal this decision depending on what the reasons say. I will continue to try all the legal mechanisms that are available to us and before I take any kind of action in regard to civil disobedience.”
Kinder Morgan Canada says the $7.4 billion pipeline expansion is already months behind and further delays could threaten the viability of the controversial project.
In September, Kinder Morgan announced construction would begin and would take up to 28 months to complete. Some work has begun on the terminal in Burnaby, which doesn’t require a permit. The company can now do additional work on its Burnaby site, like remove trees from storage tanks.
Some local environmental groups are not pleased with the NEB’s decision.
“Today’s decision should shake British Columbians to their core,” says Wilderness Committee Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney. “Kinder Morgan has used a manufactured dispute with Burnaby to bypass the ability for cities to protect their residents and environment. With this precedent, the company can bully local governments all along the route into granting permits without the required information. That puts local residents and environments at risk.”
Sven Biggs with environmental organization Stand.Earth says he’s not surprised by the ruling, and believes the situation highlights the kind of company Kinder Morgan is.
“Kinder Morgan isn’t going to follow all the rules and laws that govern this project. That’s too bad but it’s a pattern we’ve seen from this company.”
Biggs says protests at the site of the new work are a possibility.
“We are not sure how quickly Kinder Morgan will move on the new permits they’ve been granted and how many trees have to come down. It was one of the things that sparked the conflict at Burnaby Mountain. It could very well be a flashpoint for protests again.”
The Burnaby Mountain protests happened three years ago, while Kinder Morgan was doing surveying work.
The pipeline expansion project was approved by the federal government last fall.
The BC NDP government has vowed to use “every tool available” to try to stop the expansion, but has admitted the options available to the province are limited.
NEWS 1130 has reached out to Kinder Morgan for comment.