The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) has applied to the National Energy Board as an intervenor in the Trans Mountain pipeline just in time for the Wednesday deadline.
Individuals and groups that are directly affected by Kinder Morgan's expansion project had until noon on Feb. 12 to submit an application to act either as intervenor, or to provide written comment, to the NEB during their review of Kinder Morgan's facilities application.
The company has applied to twin their existing 60-year-old Edmonton to Burnaby pipeline at a cost of $5.4 billion, nearly tripling Kinder Morgan's carrying capacity along the route.
At a special FVRD board meeting Tuesday night, directors debated what pipeline issues are of most concern to them, the cost of applying for intervenor status, and whether such an application would overlap with those that member municipalities are making on their own.
FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz said the district is seeking intervenor status in order to get their foot in the door.
"It's basically a placeholder so that if the discussions that we had with Kinder Morgan seemed to be contentious, we would have an opportunity to defend them in front of NEB. That's the main advantage to having intervenor status," said Gaetz.
The regional district has so far allocated a week's of staff time, worth $5,000, to prepare. If more funds are needed, staff will return to the board for approval.
"In the meantime, behind all of this, we have been meeting together with Kinder Morgan, and talking to Kinder Morgan, and expressing our points of view. We feel that they have been receptive to our concerns, but we'll still keep our toe in the door to make sure so that that opportunity doesn't close on us," said Gaetz.
Gaetz confirmed that Sumas Mountain Inter-Regional Park, jointly managed by the FVRD and Metro Vancouver, is of particular concern. The mountain east of Abbotsford is home to a Kinder Morgan pump station that would be expanded under the proposed project. The station spilled 110,000 litres of oil on Jan. 24, 2012, causing an outcry from local residents.
The City of Abbotsford has also applied for intervenor status on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Gaetz admitted that while there may be some overlap in the concerns expressed by FVRD and the city, they would be minor because the two bodies have different areas of responsibility.