Pipeline issues penetrate election fog

PIPE UP Network fired off questions to candidates across the Fraser Valley about the KM pipeline expansion project

Ian Anderson

The Kinder Morgan pipeline issue registered this week on the municipal landscape in Chilliwack.

PIPE UP Network members fired off questions to candidates about the expansion project, with 124 questionnaires going out to candidates in three Fraser Valley communities, including Chilliwack. A total of 44 responses were returned, according to a press release.

There was “good knowledge” of pipeline-related issues shown, and a commitment to citizen engagement in the process for the proposed $5.4 billion pipeline expansion.

“PIPE UP members believe that engagement of municipal councils on this issue will be vital in ensuring that the social, environmental and economic concerns of communities regarding the pipeline are addressed,” said Chilliwack resident and PIPE UP member Michael Hale.

“Safety concerns related to the pipeline” were cited by many along with “cleanup costs and first responder safety” major concerns with respect to diluted bitumen spills.

The pipeline issue was also one of 13 questions posed at the all-candidates’ meeting at the Cultural Centre, where would-be councillors weighed in on whether the expansion risks would be worth it.

The question was: “In case of a spill municipalities will likely be first responders and possibly saddled with a portion of the cleanup costs, where do you stand on the pipeline expansion and do you think the risks are worth it?”

The question implied that cities would be on the hook for cleanup costs, which is not clearly in evidence.

Recently there were protests against the National Energy Board’s ruling that Kinder Morgan could cut down trees and do survey work in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area.

Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson held a tele-news conference for B.C. media, mainly to answer questions about the Burnaby situation, but it was also just in time for the municipal elections on Saturday.

“I can assure you under no circumstances would a municipality be expected to undertake any cleanup costs,” said Anderson, responding to a Progress question about cities being “saddled” with costs. He said they also have resources in place to protect first responders.

Contracts with local responders and having local First Nations building capacity is underway toward a “broad safety network” of spill response resources.

“It’s something we know the province has said will be important, and they are undertaking a complete review,” said Anderson.

There were protests against the National Energy Board’s ruling that Kinder Morgan could cut down trees and do survey work in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. The related question from PIPE UP was: “Do you think that Kinder Morgan should have the right to ignore municipal bylaws such as the cutting of trees in the Burnaby Conservation Area? The overwhelming response was “no.”

Langley PIPE UP member Andhra Azevedo, who coordinated the questionnaire, said: “I want to thank all candidates who took the time to complete the survey, I was delighted by the level of engagement of so many of the candidates.”

Full responses at: www.pipe-up.net/municipal_election_candidates_questions_results

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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