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Burnaby to rally municipalities in pipeline fight

The city of Burnaby is trying to rally other communities to join its fight against Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Monday, council endorsed an emergency resolution to be presented at the Union of BC Municipalities' annual convention in Whistler Sept. 22-26. The resolution calls upon provincial and federal governments to implore the National Energy Board to subject the pipeline project to a full public hearing.

Council is opposed to the $5.4-billion expansion that would triple the pipeline's capacity to 900,000 barrels of oil a day as it passes from Alberta through Burnaby to the Westridge terminal.

Mayor Derek Corrigan has been especially critical of the review process, which has been delayed seven months and eliminated the option for commenters to speak and cross examine the applicant.

"Whether you're for or against the Kinder Morgan project, you should have an opportunity to comment," said Corrigan.

A report presented to council as background to the emergency resolution pointed out that previous NEB reviews of proposed major energy projects had allowed intervenors the chance to give oral testimony and cross examine evidence. Even reviews of projects that didn't automatically require a public hearing, such as an application in 2012 by Trans Mountain for a tolling system on its expanded pipeline, did provide an opportunity for cross examination.

Corrigan said holding public hearings ensures the review process is open and accountable.

"If they're in a hearing, they (the NEB) have to listen," said Corrigan. "That's why people have confidence in a public hearing."

Coun. Anne Kang said with so much at stake, it's only fair for the public to be allowed to ask questions publicly.

"Some of the tough questions are around issues of human health, emergency responses," said Kang. "To not allow a public forum is just not right."

Coun. Paul McDonnell said the city has to hold public hearings when it considers new projects, so it's only fair for the NEB to do the same.

"It should be as transparent as possible so people can make their own decision," said McDonnell. "The process is flawed."

The resolution will have to be reviewed by the UBCM's resolution committee before it's presented to the convention for debate.

 

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