Construction work on previously twinned section of the Trans Mountain pipeline near Jasper.

KPU scraps pipeline benefits deal

Kwantlen Polytechnic University cites namesake first nation's concerns in rescinding Trans Mountain agreement

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has pulled out of an agreement with Kinder Morgan that would have seen the institution collect $300,000 in benefits over 20 years if the Trans Mountain pipeline is approved.

The deal announced in June had come under fire from students, environmentalists and the first nation after which the university is named.

“My decision to withdraw KPU from this agreement was made out of respect for the Kwantlen First Nation’s right to argue its case before the National Energy Board regarding this pipeline expansion project,” KPU president and vice-chancellor Alan Davis said Friday in an emailed statement.

The Kwantlen band is an intervener in the NEB hearings, which are to resume this fall.

“Our longstanding relationship with the Kwantlen First Nation is fundamental to the university’s history and identity,” Davis said after an Oct. 2 meeting with aboriginal leaders. “I heard their concerns and I have acted on them as quickly as possible.”

Asked if the university might still renew the benefits agreement in the future – possibly after a final recommendation on the Trans Mountain project by the NEB – a spokesperson only said: “At this point, KPU is focusing on its relationship with the Kwantlen First Nation.”

Trans Mountain has already struck benefits deals totaling $5 million with 18 municipalities along the pipeline route. They’re contingent on final pipeline approval and aim to provide project legacies while also demonstrating local support.

The money for Kwantlen was to consist mainly of scholarships and bursaries for KPU trades and technology students, and to help fund KPU’s Environmental Protection Technology lab, with potential naming rights flowing to the pipeline company.

KPU students had argued the agreement amounted to a tacit endorsement of a pipeline that posed unacceptable risks and would have gone against the university’s sustainability mandate.

Kwantlen Student Association president Allison Gonzalez said she was “thrilled” and “proud” of KPU’s decision to respect Kwantlen First Nation concerns and rescind the agreement.