Court decision on funding for residents’ pipeline hearing participation due in few weeks

Appeal of National Energy Board decision to deny participant funding to landowners took place March 23.

Byron Smith of Fort Langley

Byron Smith of Fort Langley

A Federal Court judge in Vancouver has reserved decision on an application by some Langley residents to overturn a National Energy Board (NEB) decision.

The NEB denied them funding to take part in hearings on the Kinder Morgan pipeline application to twin its oil pipeline.

The three-hour hearing took place Monday, March 23 before Justice John O’Keefe.

The applicants describe themselves as residents of the Fort Langley flood plain area, near the Salmon River.

At issue is the NEB decision last year to deny the group participant funding, which is money to help cover the costs of participating in the review of the pipeline proposal, including legal fees, funding of independent studies, travel and other expenses.

The residents say that while Kinder Morgan has announced it now plans to run the new pipeline through the hillside above the Salmon River flood plain and through the Redwoods Golf Course, it has not removed the Salmon River flood plain area from its route maps.

Participant funding would allow the residents to carry out their own study of the impact the pipeline would have on the area, they say.

Prior to the court hearing, Byron Smith, one of the residents, said the NEB  refused to explain its decision to deny them funding when he travelled to Calgary to meet with the NEB representative who is overseeing the application.

“We are feeling frustrated and neglected,” Smith said.

He says he expects the judge will rule on the application in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Redwoods Golf Course has received little information on what the pipeline company plans to do on its property.

Doug Hawley, general manager of the course, which is owned by the Township of Langley but leased to Redwoods, said last week “there has been no conversation on route alignment” with Kinder Morgan.

“I have not seen a map of the proposed route,” he said.

He has been told that nothing will happen on the property in 2015 or 2016, which has allowed him to take bookings “two years out.” However, he does need to have plenty of advance notice because of the many special events which are booked at the course, including weddings and receptions, corporate events and golf tournaments.

He has been told by Kinder Morgan representatives that testing will likely begin near the southwest corner of the course, in the vicinity of 217A Street, but he does not know exactly what that will entail.

“I really want to know more, because it affects me (the business) every day,” he told The Times.

— with files from Frank Bucholtz