Pipeline countdown the talk of town this week in Chilliwack

The hot-button topic of pipeline implications for Chilliwack hit home this week with a survey and a petition

The hot-button topic of pipeline implications for Chilliwack hit home this week. Both the Chilliwack-Hope MP

The hot-button topic of pipeline implications for Chilliwack hit home this week. Both the Chilliwack-Hope MP

It’s crunch time.

There’s a month or less to go before PM Justin Trudeau’s government is to decide on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal.

The hot-button topic of pipeline implications for Chilliwack hit home this week.

Both the Chilliwack-Hope MP, and the Water Wealth Project, are separately asking Chilliwack residents to weigh in one last time.

Mark Strahl, MP for Chilliwack-Hope, uploaded a single-question survey to his website this week:

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that he will decide whether to approve the Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project by mid-December. What do you think?”

It’s timely.

“The Kinder Morgan pipeline upgrade and expansion project has been in the news locally and nationally for quite some time. With the deadline approaching for Justin Trudeau to make a decision on the pipeline, I wanted to ask my constituents what they thought,” he replied.

Strahl says his stand hasn’t wavered.

“As MP for Chilliwack-Hope, and as the Official Opposition Natural Resource Critic, I’ve always said that pipelines should be approved only if they are shown to be safe for the environment and for Canadians by an independent, scientific review process.”

It’s significant that the National Energy Board has said this pipeline can go ahead, but only with 150 specific conditions.

“Building this pipeline will help us get the best price for Canada’s oil, which will help get people back to work, and will also continue to provide economic benefits that help fund our schools and hospitals, and help put food on the table for hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Pipelines are also the safest way to transport oil – much safer than trains or trucks,” said Strahl.

Strahl’s survey provides an option for additional comments.

“On the paper version of the survey that went out to all households, there is a space for comments and we’ve added the option to provide comments to the online survey as well,” he added.

Answer the survey until Nov. 30 at www.markstrahl.com/haveyoursay

Water Wealth spokesman Ian Stephen has been outspoken publicly calling for a change in the route of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to avoid crossing over the Sardis-Vedder aquifer.

He figures he’s got about a week, and suggests an infinitely better question than ‘pipeline yes or no,’ would be asking if people support a demand to alter the pipeline route, away from the aquifer.

He is urging people to weigh in with their online petition to that effect, and armed with those signatures, the group will request that MP Mark Strahl lobby for the route change as condition of project approval.

Titled “Not on the Aquifer,” the Water Wealth petition sends a message to PM Justin Trudeau and his cabinet, asking them to seriously consider changing the route, and refrain from building the twinned pipeline over Chilliwack and Yarrow’s drinking water source, the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer.

“We must not let Kinder Morgan double-down on this gamble with our drinking water,” Stephen said.

The existing 63-year old oil pipeline was built over the aquifer. The federal government will be deciding on the construction of a pipeline twice as large to be added alongside the old one for a combined capacity of 890,000 barrels every day.

“The old pipe has had 82 leaks so far,” he noted.

It isn’t really about whether the pipeline expansion should go ahead or not.

If the twinning goes ahead and they dig a new trench anyway, there would never be an easier time “to remove the threat” by going around the aquifer instead of over it, Stephen argues on the Water Wealth page.

“The National Energy Board report acknowledged the compounding risks in this section of the pipeline (more) and said several times that the route is not finalized and changes can still be made.

“It’s not too late, but time is short and no one is going to make that route change happen for us.

“It is up to those of us who rely on this water every day to tell the Trudeau government that they must protect the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer as a condition of project approval!”

See the petition at  http://www.waterwealthproject.com/nota