Pipeline conditions should decrease cost to Abbotsford: Mayor

Mayor Henry Braun said conditions recommended by National Energy Board and talks with company have lessened burden on municipality.

The conditions attached to the National Energy Board’s recommendation to approve the twinning of the Trans Mountain Pipeline should decrease the burden on the City of Abbotsford and mitigate some of the risks associated with the project, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said Tuesday.

Having had the weekend to review the 533-page report, Braun said that while the city didn’t receive all the conditions it had requested, the report did address some of the concerns of municipalities like Abbotsford.

Private negotiations between Kinder Morgan Canada, the operator of the pipeline, and the city have addressed other issues, Braun said.

The pipeline runs for around 30 kilometres through Abbotsford.

The Liberals will make a final decision on whether to approve the project, which would see the existing pipeline twinned, nearly tripling its capacity, by December.

“I think we have achieved to a large degree what we were looking for,” said Braun. He pointed specifically to calls for communication between the company and municipalities, and said the project would see the creation of emergency management processes not currently in place.

He said private talks with the company have seen progress to reduce the issues the city incurs when dealing with infrastructure near the pipeline. A report had previously suggested the city would incur $17 million of additional costs over 50 years. Braun said the talks should reduce that figure, and pointed to an agreement to case the line in concrete near crossings to allow for quicker and cheaper cleaning of ditches.

Meanwhile, Peter Reus, who leads a group of Fraser Valley agricultural landowners called the Collaborative Group of Landowners Affected by Pipelines (CGLAP), said his group was supportive of the report. The CGLAP had argued that the pipeline has led to ongoing harassment and costs for farmers, and had requested royalties from the pipeline operator.

The report, however, didn’t address those requests, and Reus said its writers don’t seem to have considered the impact of pipeline construction and maintenance on farmers. He said the group hopes a panel convened by the federal Liberals will impose further conditions, and specifically cited the impact of large and heavy machinery on fields during the construction process.