Chilliwack reaction to TMX approval coming in mixed

Feedback has been ranging from outright acceptance to outrage

Local reaction to the Trans Mountain pipeleine expansion approval — for the second time — is still mixed, ranging from outright appreciation to outrage.

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove said the role for City of Chilliwack will continue to be one of advocacy to underline the importance of protecting the city’s drinking water source.

“While I believe it is time to acknowledge that this project has become a reality, the safety of our aquifer and natural areas continues to be a priority,” Popove said, in a short statement.

“The City will continue to advocate for improved protection for the Sardis-Vedder aquifer and improved environmental protection for our natural areas even as Trans Mountain begin their next steps.”

Ian Stephen of the Chilliwack WaterWealth Project found the TMX decision as “so disappointing,” since it fundamentally “locks in emissions growth.”

“It was so disappointing that the conditions the federal government added did nothing to address needless risks imposed on our community by the pipeline,” Stephen said in his reaction statement. “Regrettably it seems nothing has changed as a Crown corporation.”

The only positive note he could muster was if they build it, he hopes it will be on ‘the best possible route’ as the NEB Act requires, which would take the route away from the aquifer, farms backyards, schools, and more.

But it’s not just the prospect of adding another pipeline.

“Perhaps worse is that they plan to increase pressure on the old pipe by 50,000 barrels per day and they’re notupgrading that old pipe,” Stephen wrote. “It began in 1953 as a 150,000 barrel per day pipe. It’s at 300,000 per day now. They want to push it to 350,000. Under schools. Within six metres of homes. Past city wells. There’s no way we’d even be talking about that route if it was an all new pipeline.

“A lot of people say ‘there’s already one there. What’s the problem?’ Yet in areas like ours that there is already one there is exactly the problem,” Stephen added.

Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl said in his emailed statement that pipelines are the “safest way to ship oil,” criticizing the numerous delays that have hampered the project.

“Canada’s Conservatives have always said that the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion should be built if it could be shown to be safe for the environment and for Canadians. Pipelines are the safest way to transport oil, and this project will benefit the country through increased revenues for things like hospitals and schools,” Strahl said.

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have “bungled” the TMX file from the beginning, in his view.

”Canadian energy workers and taxpayers have suffered as a result, and the Liberals even had to spend $4.5 billion tax dollars to nationalize the old pipeline after they couldn’t provide any certainty that the new pipeline would be built even after it was approved,” Strahl said.

Despite it being the third approval from the feds, “not a single inch of new pipeline” has been laid.

”These delays have cost Canadians billions in economic activity,” Strahl said.

Conservatives were in power during approval and construction of “four major pipelines,” including those that allowed additional export access.

“A new Conservative government will ensure that major nation building projects will actually get built, with private money, in a responsible and timely fashion,” Strahl concluded.

For Michael Hale, director of Pipe Up Network, the ultimately decision spells “disaster” since what Canada really needs is bold action to address climate change.

On Monday Canada’s House of Commons declares “a climate emergency,” Hale said.

“Then on Tuesday, the prime minister tells us, yet again, that the government plans to build a bitumen export pipeline that he knows will expand Alberta’s oil sands.

What is wrong with this picture?” Hale asked in his emailed statement.

Hale zeroed in on the so-called business case made for TMX.

“Trudeau, Sheer, and Kenney go on about ‘getting our resources to tidewater.’ That is a scam. Would Kinder Morgan have pulled out if they had been able to find Asian markets for that diluted bitumen? In over a decade of trying, the only markets Kinder Morgan found were in the U.S. Could that be why they unloaded it?”

“Given what oil sands expansion would do to the environment and the climate, the people of Canada need to know the business case for any pipeline expansion. It is imperative that the federal government present its economic plan for Trans Mountain, along with the concrete steps it will take to address the climate emergency.”

READ MORE: Aquifer still the focus with approval

READ MORE: TMX approval quashed by federal court


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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