Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project construction in the back field at Watson Elementary School in Chilliwack on July 31, 2022. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

September looms for Trans Mountain pipeline expansion work in Chilliwack school fields

Pipeline runs through sports fields at Vedder Middle and Watson Elementary in Sardis

As the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) construction continues in Chilliwack, there is one area where there is a looming deadline: school yards.

The existing pipeline and the expanded right-of-way for the TMX runs through the sports fields at Vedder Middle School and Watson Elementary School.

The work may not be entirely complete by September when kids are back in school but the company is aiming to have most of it done.

Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project construction in the back field at Vedder Middle School in Chilliwack on July 29, 2022. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project construction in the back field at Vedder Middle School in Chilliwack on July 29, 2022. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

“In Chilliwack, crews are focusing on construction through the Vedder Middle School and Watson Elementary School sports fields,” according to an emailed statement from Trans Mountain media relations. “Crews will use open-cut construction to install the pipeline through the fields of each location. This work will take place throughout July and August to minimize construction impacts during the school year. Each sports field will be closed to the public during construction.”

Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project construction in the back field at Watson Elementary School in Chilliwack on July 31, 2022. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project construction in the back field at Watson Elementary School in Chilliwack on July 31, 2022. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

The twinning along the historic route prompted the Chilliwack board of education in 2019 to write a letter of opposition to the National Energy Board (NEB). The decision unanimous decision to write that letter came at a September 2019 board meeting. Absent, however, were trustees Heather Maahs and Darrell Furgason who have expressed support for TMX, with Furgason calling opposition “paranoid” and “hysteria.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack DPAC meeting to discuss oil pipeline expansion through school yards

The pipeline also runs close to Mt. Slesse middle school and Unsworth elementary, as well as across the city’s protected groundwater zone, an area of the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer, the source of the city’s drinking water.

The pipeline was constructed in 1953 before the schools or much of the surrounding Sardis community was built.

In split decisions, the school board has twice declined offers of cash from Trans Mountain, once in September 2015 and more recently on Feb. 26, 2019.

Trans Mountain has an 18-metre easement along the 1,150-kilometre pipeline that runs from the Alberta oil sands to tidewater in Burnaby. The TMX will require a 42-metre easement.

RELATED: OPINION: 10 years later and TMX pipe is finally going in the ground in Chilliwack

RELATED: Mating woodpeckers put a halt to multi-billion-dollar TMX oil pipeline expansion work in Chilliwack


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Route of the Trans Mountain Pipeline as it runs through Sardis in Chilliwack, including through the fields at Vedder Middle School and Watson Elementary School. (maps.chilliwack.com)

Route of the Trans Mountain Pipeline as it runs through Sardis in Chilliwack, including through the fields at Vedder Middle School and Watson Elementary School. (maps.chilliwack.com)

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