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Alternate Burnaby pipeline routes now preferred: Kinder Morgan

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart -
Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart
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When it comes to routes for its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Burnaby, Kinder Morgan has switched the status of its preferred and alternate corridors.

That is, what it identified as being alternate Burnaby corridors in its Dec. 16 application to the National Energy Board (NEB) are now its first choices, and vice versa.

That change was presented at the company's Burnaby open house last Thursday evening on efforts it is making to nail down a final route for the pipeline expansion.

Kinder Morgan is proposing to almost triple capacity on its Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby. The move would allow it to increase exports of oil sands crude to overseas markets.

The current selected corridor between North Road and Kinder Morgan's Burnaby Terminal follows the CN Rail alignment northwest to Lougheed Highway. It then goes north on Gaglardi Way, west on Eastlake Drive, then north on Underhill Avenue to the terminal on Shellmont Street.

Previously, it had stated its preferred route would run underneath Lougheed to Underhill.

From Burnaby Terminal to Westridge Terminal on Bayview Drive, the preference is now to use a tunnel underneath the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area.

Before, the pipeline was to run underneath Burnaby Mountain Parkway, Hastings Street and Cliff Avenue to the terminal.

"We've listened to what people have had to say," said project spokesperson Lizette Parsons Bell in an interview before the open house. "And a lot of land owners and a lot of the community have said we would rather you were not in the road along the existing pipeline."

Tunnelling under the park would help reduce the construction impact on the Westridge community, she noted. The tunnel would use a "trenchless" method so as not to disturb the park's surface.

And there would no longer be any direct impact on Westridge-area homes, she said.

While the company's 15,000-page application to the NEB was filed in December, the cutoff date it used for adding information to it was July 31, 2013, Parsons Bell explained.

The company continued to meet with the community after that and on March 20 it filed a "consultation update" that covered the period between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31. Another update is expected before the fall of this year.

Critics have complained that the community was not adequately informed before the NEB cut off applications to participate in the process on Feb. 12. But Parsons Bell said it was always known either the preferred or alternate routes were a possibility.

"Both routes have been discussed and have been shown in the application," she said. "So they are in the application, and we notified everyone on both the alternative and preferred corridors."

The NEB will hold oral hearings in early 2015 and is required to produce a report and recommendations to the federal government by July 2015.

Work on detailed routing within the corridors won't happen unless the company receives government approvals to go ahead with the project, she said.

"I don't know how you can have any faith in this process at all," said Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, an outspoken critic of the project.

"Really they could've waited until they had the route complete and decided which path they were going to take. There was no deadline for their application. That's their own self-imposed deadline.

"All they're really worried about is making sure that this NEB process is finished up before the next federal election."

That election is slated for October 2015, just a few months after the NEB must submit a recommendation, Stewart noted from Ottawa.

Of the 2,100 people and organizations that applied to participate in the process, 400 have been granted intervenor status that will allow them to speak at the NEB hearings. Of those, about 170 are from Burnaby.

As for tunnelling under the park, Stewart said a bored tunnel was also planned for the Canada Line SkyTrain extension.

"One minute after the application was approved, the company said, 'sorry, we're going to do a cut-and-cover.' Again, I don't see how [the pipeline is] going to be any different."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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