The existing route of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline in Chilliwack runs through Watson elementary’s schoolyard and residential backyards. The DPAC has organized a meeting Nov. 6, 2019 for parents from Watson and Vedder middle, and feeder schools, to discuss the pipeline expansion project. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

Chilliwack DPAC meeting to discuss oil pipeline expansion through school yards

Existing Trans Mountain pipeline route runs through Watson elementary and Vedder middle fields

Parents of students at two Chilliwack schools are being invited by their Parent Advisory Councils (PAC) to a presentation to a meeting on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project (TMX) on Wednesday.

The existing 66-year-old oil pipeline runs through the school yards at Watson elementary and Vedder middle school, something that has caused some parents concern for years.

The route and the proposed twinning along that same route prompted the Chilliwack board of education to write a letter of opposition to the National Energy Board (NEB).

That unanimous decision came at a September board meeting. Absent, however, were trustees Heather Maahs and Darrel Furgason who have expressed support for TMX, with Furgason calling opposition “paranoid” and “hysteria.”

• READ MORE: Chilliwack school district opposes oil pipeline route through school yards

The pipeline also runs close to Mt. Slesse middle school and Unsworth elementary, as well as across the city’s protected groundwater zone, an area of the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer, the source of the city’s drinking water. It was constructed in 1953 before the schools or much of the surrounding Sardis community was built.

In split decisions, the school board has twice declined offers of cash from Trans Mountain, once in September 2015 and more recently on Feb. 26, 2019.

Trans Mountain has an 18-metre easement along the 1,150-kilometre pipeline that runs from the Alberta oil sands to tidewater in Burnaby. The TMX will require a 42-metre easement so the company, which is owned by the federal government, was offered a $36,000 agreement bonus from Trans Mountain, that on top of the $59,400 for Vedder and $76,950 for Watson if the expansion ever happens.

• READ MORE: Oil pipeline company offers cash to expand under two Chilliwack school yards

• READ MORE: Do Chilliwack schools have a plan for oil spills?

The meeting scheduled for Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. at Vedder middle school is described on an EventBrite page as a free, nonpartisan event hosted by the Vedder middle and Watson elementary parent advisory councils.

Initially the invite was going to go to Vedder and Watson parents an parents of kids in feeder schools, including Tyson, Yarrow Community, Sardis, Evans, and Greendale elementary schools, as well as Sardis Secondary School. Now, however, the invitation is going out to parents of any kids in the district.

Parents of children who live on the south side and attend the district’s early French immersion program at Cheam elementary, for example, may be interested, too, because they may choose to attend Vedder middle school starting in Grade 6.

Here is what attendees will hear, according to organizers:

• a brief description of the Canadian Energy Regulator;

• a history of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and how it relates to Chilliwack;

• understanding why this is a concern;

• guidelines of What You Need to Know in the Event of a Pipeline Emergency;

• a look at local maps, including a suggested alternate pipeline route away from school properties;

• action letters written by the DPAC, and other statements of opposition;

• a Q&E period and an opportunity to hear from parents.

Parents of the two affected schools or feeder schools who want to register for the meeting can do so here: EventBrite.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


The existing Trans Mountain Pipeline right-of-way as it runs through Sardis, including through the back school yards of Vedder middle school and Watson elementary. The pipeline expansion project proposes to run on the same route, expanding the right-of-way. (

The Trans Mountain oil pipeline runs through the back field of Watson elementary and also Vedder middle school. (Paul J. Henderson/ Black Press file)

Just Posted

Fraser Valley auto sound business starts producing face shields

Certified Auto Sound & Security is doing what it can to help frontline healthcare workers.

Fabrication work for Vedder Bridge roundabout art project is well underway

Funds of $255K held in reserve from new bridge budget do not represent a new cost for artwork

Chilliwack school trustees using Zoom to conduct meetings during pandemic

Public participation not available, but staff taking public questions before and after meetings

A little snow and hail for Chilliwack but no record broken

It was the second snowiest April day in Chilliwack on record Friday

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

Fraser Valley auto sound business starts producing face shields

Certified Auto Sound & Security is doing what it can to help frontline healthcare workers.

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read