No access to lands without consent: Kinder Morgan

Fraser Valley Regional District has not taken an official position with respect to Kinder Morgan's potential pipeline twinning.

The Fraser Valley Regional District has confirmed that although it voluntarily approved a corridor study for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project in the Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park, FVRD has not taken an official position with respect to Kinder Morgan’s potential pipeline twinning.

“The Board’s authorization to allow access onto the three parcels in question is not any indication of whether the Board endorses the project — that has yet to be determined,” wrote FVRD actingChief Administrative Officer Suzanne Gresham in an email.

The board will have that discussion “in due course.”

Kinder Morgan is surveying parts of the Cheam Lake Wetlands in preparation for their application to the National Energy Board.

“The balance of Cheam Lake Regional Park is not being impacted by this proposed corridor study,” wrote Gresham.

FVRD confirmed that the Federal government “provides the authority for Kinder Morgan to access lands for purposes of undertaking survey work.”

However, Kinder Morgan Canada said that it would prefer to obtain voluntary consent, and the company has not resorted to using the NEB Act trump card.

“Although the NEB Act provides the authority to access any land for our surveys, we have not used that authority, but instead our objective is to work cooperatively with land owners, locals governments, municipalities and stakeholders on all aspects of the project,” wrote Carey Johannesson for Kinder Morgan Canada in an email.

The NEB Act, under Section 73, legislates that a private company may enter any Crown or private land “lying in the intended route of its pipeline, and make surveys, examinations or other necessary arrangements on the land for fixing the site of the pipeline” without license.

Based on discussions between FVRD staff and Kinder Morgan, FVRD understands that “providing consent does not mean that the landowner supports the pipeline expansion.”

At the March 26 FVRD Board of Directors meeting, FVRD also approved to rezone the entire Cheam Lake Wetlands from the “Park Reserve” (P-2) to the “Park” (P-1) designation in recognition that the area requires “protection from potential sources of pollution and other causes of environmental deterioration,” according to FVRD by-laws.

Gresham explained that this constitutes “a housekeeping matter, as it had come to our attention that the land was not zoned for park use.” The re-zoned portion lies on the far side of the park and is not fully developed and integrated into the park, wrote Gresham. Kinder Morgan’s proposed corridor study would cut across this section, at the top end farthest from the lake.

Local anti-pipeline organization Pipe Up Network raised alarm this week over the 12,000 barrels of Canadian crude that spilled out of an Exxon Mobil pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, on March 29. Two dozen homes were evacuated, and residents have filed a class action lawsuit against the company. Pictures of the spill show rivers of black tar-like oil across roads, backyards, and local wildlife.

“The photos from this spill highlight the risks of transporting bitumen and the tragedy that ensues when a break happens,” said Lynn Perrin of Pipe Up Network in a release.

Another spokesperson, Michael Hale, added: “Within the past five years, we have seen hundreds of thousands of litres of oil spill from Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline in four major spills.”

In Chilliwack, Vedder Middle School, Watson Elementary, Unsworth Elementary, and John Calvin Elementary lie within 200 metres of the proposed pipeline. A further 16 schools lie within a few blocks. Pipe Up Network recently launched its school safety campaign, designed to encourage local schools to develop an emergency procedure relating to pipeline spills.