Chilliwack to revisit Kinder Morgan community benefits funding

Chilliwack council unanimously turned down a $800,000 offer from Kinder Morgan back in May but is now ready to talk about it again

Council set to revisit funding idea for Vedder Trail pedestrian rail bridge from Kinder Morgan through its Community Benefits program.

Council set to revisit funding idea for Vedder Trail pedestrian rail bridge from Kinder Morgan through its Community Benefits program.

Chilliwack city staff is recommending council accept a $1.2 million offer from Kinder Morgan as part of the energy giant’s Community Benefits program.

Back in May, Chilliwack council unanimously turned down a $800,000 grant offer from Kinder Morgan to offset any disruptions caused by construction.

Council opted not to rush into signing the Memorandum of Understanding with KM on a pedestrian rail bridge project — at least not while the National Energy Board was deciding the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project.

Some called the KM funding offer a “bribe” at the time, while others criticized the timing as questionable.

Council said “no” after a motion was put forth by Coun. Jason Lum, even though they risked forfeiting the funds entirely because there was a timeline in place.

But now that the NEB recently approved the pipeline expansion plan with several conditions, council is ready to look at the matter again. It was slated for a vote Tuesday afternoon.

Turns out the May deadline for signing the MOU was not a deal-breaker after all, and Kinder Morgan officials said they were still open to future discussions.

The initial community benefits funding proposal was for $800k to put toward the Vedder Greenway Pedestrian Bridge Project, estimated to to cost $1.2 million in all.

The pedestrian rail bridge project had a placeholder in the city budget for 2017, but if the funding comes through, that’s where it will be directed.

“Now that NEB approval has been given, staff have had discussions with TMP to revisit the subject of Community Benefits Funding for Chilliwack,” according to the staff report.

Trans Mountain is offering to enter into an MOU to fund the full cost of the pedestrian trail bridge project at $1.2 million.

“Receiving the funding would seem to be an equitable contribution to the community for the disruption and would be consistent with funding being provided to other communities,” according the to city staff report presented to council on Tuesday.

The Community Benefits program is geared to compensating communities for any future disruptions or impacts during the pipeline construction phases.

Nine other B.C. communities have signed MOUs indicating their interest in receiving the KM funding: Abbotsford, Hope, Merritt, Kamloops, Thompson Nicola Regional District, Barrier, Hinton, Clearwater and Valemount.

Council had yet to vote on the staff recommendation before The Progress went to press on Tuesday. See www.theprogress.com for updates.