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Metro Vancouver to intervene in Kinder Morgan oil pipeline hearings

An oil tanker in Burrard Inlet offshore from Kinder Morgan
An oil tanker in Burrard Inlet offshore from Kinder Morgan's export terminal.
— image credit: File

The Metro Vancouver board has voted to seek intervenor status in the upcoming National Energy Board hearings on the proposal to twin Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

The regional district board has not yet taken any position for or against the project but wants to be positioned to ask questions and was up against a Feb. 12 deadline to register.

The decision happened at a closed-door Metro board meeting Friday.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson called it a "placeholder" decision that doesn't necessarily mean Metro will use intervenor status.

It's not yet clear what an NEB presence would cost Metro, she said, and noted Metro cities have no united position on the project.

"There's no clear consensus," she said.

The $5.4-billion project would nearly triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels per day. That would mean a seven-fold increase in shipments through Burrard Inlet, to about 400 oil tankers a year.

The pipeline twinning is also the topic of a City of Surrey report that is going to that council at a closed session Monday night.

Local cities have taken different approaches to the NEB hearings and the project.

Vancouver and Burnaby both oppose the project, citing the unacceptable risk of a catastrophic oil spill, but have not sought intervenor status.

Belcarra council has registered as intervenors and has repeatedly pressed Kinder Morgan to commit to further spill response improvements.

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart has been assisting local residents who want to register to speak at the upcoming NEB hearings and criticized the complexity of the registration process.

An Insights West online poll released Wednesday found 48 per cent of B.C. residents support the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning, 43 per cent oppose it and 11 per cent are undecided.

The second pipeline would largely follow the right-of-way for the existing one in much of the Fraser Valley, but in Metro Vancouver it would be routed away from heavily built-up areas, following existing transportation corridors much of the way.

Kinder Morgan filed its 15,000-page formal project application last month.

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