The City of Chilliwack is preparing to take part in a “detailed route hearing” for the Chilliwack portion of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
When Trans Mountain filed for approval of its detailed pipeline route in 2017, it was required to notify all affected landowners along the route, such as Chilliwack. After Chilliwack filed a statement of opposition (SOO) to the proposed route last fall, it was granted a detailed route hearing, which is expected to be held some time in late January or February.
Chilliwack council has repeated throughout the process that its main concern is the protection of the city’s drinking water supply, the Sardis-Vedder aquifer, both from the new pipeline, and the existing one.
“Council has directed staff to hire a consultant to further examine issues to be raised at the upcoming detailed route hearing,” Mayor Ken Popove said.“This will include attending the hearing with an engineering report that provides expert comment on potential impacts to the City’s potable water system, as well as comments regarding construction methods, environmental protection during construction, leak monitoring and prevention systems.”
Chilliwack reps will provide the Highway 1 route alternative to the right-of-way routing, “detailing alignment, land impacts, geometric challenges and construction disruption estimates,” the mayor added.
City of Chilliwack staff, and consultants, with the help of legal counsel, will be presenting submissions, and offering testimony at the upcoming hearings hosted by the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER).
Although 65 per cent of the route is already approved, there are six hearings coming up to cover the segments of the pipeline route not yet approved.
Chilliwack officials had asked if “trench lining” could be incorporated into the section over the aquifer, but Trans Mountain has not committed to this.
“Thus the City remains concerned that the proposed location, timing and method of construction of the Project will harm the City Lands and its water supply,” according to the Statement of Opposition filed in September 2019 from Chilliwack.
Ian Stephen of WaterWealth Project said said the goal for them is to get the route changed once the route hearings begin. He pointed to efforts of a Kamloops city councillor who is trying to get the old Trans Mountain Pipeline moved out of a residential area and instead follow the new pipeline which goes around that neighbourhood. The question Stephen said he has for city officials planning for the detailed route hearing was, will they stand up for public safety?
“There are new powers in the CER Act to allow the regulator to order existing pipelines moved for to ensure the ‘safety of persons,’ Stephen said.
The previous NEB Act did not have those powers.
“If the Kamloops motion goes ahead it will be the first time, so far as I know, that anyone has asked the CER to use this new authority.”
Chilliwack is unique in that that the new pipe is planned to follow the old pipe through populated areas.
“A safer route could be taken here as well, for both pipelines,” Stephen added.
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