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Looking Back Look Ahead: Pipeline proposal in Burnaby spotlight

In October, Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the entrance gate at Kinder Morgan
In October, Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the entrance gate at Kinder Morgan's Westridge Marine Terminal, blocking access to protest the company's proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to export oil sands crude to overseas markets.
— image credit: Mario Bartel/NewsLeader File

The year started with Kinder Morgan Canada announcing it planned to expand the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline even more than originally proposed, continued on with speculation of what impact the project would have, and ended with the company filing its 15,000-page  formal application with the National Energy Board (NEB).

In between, Chevron's North Burnaby refinery applied to the NEB for priority designation on the existing pipeline to secure its crude oil supply, and lost. Greenpeace protesters blocked access to Kinder Morgan's Westridge marine terminal by chaining themselves to the entrance gate while others climbed huge storage tanks to unfurl banners and paint a protest message.

Residents living next to the Westridge terminal complained of fumes and concerns about their property values if the expansion is allowed to go ahead.

And when the NEB cancelled local information sessions on how people could participate in the upcoming hearings on the $5.5-billion expansion proposal—instead it held online sessions which it deemed more convenient for those who wanted to attend—Burnaby-Douglas New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart decided to take matters into his own hands.

He's started a website, letbcdecide.ca, and plans to hold workshops to inform people of what they need to know to get involved in the process.

The expansion of the pipeline, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, would almost triple its capacity from the current 300,000 barrels of crude oil a day to 890,000 barrels a day, to allow for the increased export of oil sands crude to overseas markets. It would also increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet seven-fold to about 400 a year.

While it would be twinned along the existing right-of-way for much of that route, in urban areas like Greater Vancouver, new routes are being designed to avoid developed areas as much as possible.

In Burnaby, the current pipeline built about 60 years ago, is now located within residential neighbourhoods including Forest Grove and the area south of Burnaby Mountain Parkway.

Options the company is considering is to run the new pipeline underneath Lougheed Highway or rail corridors to Underhill Avenue to its Burnaby Terminal at Shellmont Street.

From there to the Westridge terminal, it's considering an alternative corridor that runs alongside Burnaby Mountain Parkway, Hastings Street and Cliff Avenue among other options.

Kinder Morgan expects the NEB will hold a public hearing on its application near the end of 2014.

Stay tuned.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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