A federal panel gathering input on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion got an earful Tuesday over a lack of public notice about the local hearings.
“I don’t think the CIA could have done a better job of keeping it a secret,” Lawrence Barrichello told the panel. “How can you say that there’s public consultation when the public isn’t here?”
Attempting to shore up public confidence in environmental assessments, the Trudeau government established the panel to complement the National Energy Board’s assessment and regulatory review and determine whether any stones were left unturned by that process. The NEB has already given its nod to the $6.8-billion twinning, but additional input will be considered when cabinet makes its decision by year’s end.
About 35 people attended the first portion of two days of roundtable discussions at TRU, some expressing wholehearted support for the project, others questioning how it could be reconciled with the need to reduce greenhouse gases in the face of climate change.
From the outset it was evident — when the City of Kamloops was invited to make the first presentation and did so only after some hesitation — that there were gaps in communication.
Merritt Mayor Neil Menard, along with former MLA Kevin Krueger, endorsed the project based on Trans Mountain’s track record of operating the pipeline over the last 63 years.
“We believe it will be very, very environmentally friendly,” said Menard, first at the mic. “The last think we want to see is any community across Canada is what happened in Quebec,” he added, alluding to the Lac Megantic oil-by-rail disaster.”
Acknowledging resistance to the pipeline project in the Lower Mainland, Menard said people in the Coast have to appreciate there are others in the Interior who favour it.
“It’s needed. It’s a product that the world can’t do without.”
Glen Farrow, the City’s environmental services manager, recapped the City’s list of concerns as relayed to the NEB, noting that City council hasn’t taken a stand for or against. The expansion will cross 11 roads and numerous utilities, a real concern, he said. As well, it traverses green spaces, parks and nature area.
Coun. Donovan Cavers said City council didn’t have an opportunity to discuss the matter due to the short timeline of the panel’s mandate. He, too, complained of a lack of notice.
“The promotion of this event I find to be totally inadequate,” Cavers said.
Speaking as a private citizen rather than on behalf of the City, he noted that the expansion will triple the volume of oil moved through the area. Construction jobs will provide economic benefit but long-term jobs amount to a few maintenance positions, he said.
“Of course, the elephant in the room is climate change,” Cavers said. “I don’t understand what the gold rush mentality is in getting oil out of Alberta when in all likelihood the value of the commodity will increase over time.”
Nick Schultz, vice-president of pipeline regulation with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, described this as an exciting time, moving forward with Aboriginal reconciliation, a process they endorse along with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. He offered reassurances of safety, saying the NEB has “upped its game in relation to public safety enforcement,” and pointed to government strides in addressing climate change, such as Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan and B.C.’s carbon tax.
“We’re a trading nation and trade continues to be a source of our collective economic success,” Schultz said.
Comprised of Kim Baird, former Tsawwassen chief, Tony Penikett, a former Yukon premier, and Annette Trimbee, president of the University of Winnipeg, the panel is open to hearing from the general public once invited roundtable speakers have their say. They continue to meet in TRU's Barber Centre Tuesday and Wednesday, July 20.
Tuesday afternoon was dedicated to hearing from First Nations.
Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson said the Secwepemc nation is the largest indigenous territory through which the pipeline runs yet there has been no proper engagement with Secwepemc people collectively.
“Our people hunt, fish and collect food and medicine throughout our territory and we are also the caretakers for the world’s largest remaining sockeye salmon run and many others and no protective measures have been put in place,” Wilson said in a statement released prior to the session. “Our territory has already been impacted by the current pipeline which was put in 63 years ago with no environmental assessment, no public input and no engagement with indigenous peoples. It is a major infrastructure corridor that has disrupted indigenous land uses with no remuneration and benefit for the Secwepemc people."
“The Province of B.C. needs to get the permission of the Secwepemc Nation and not just the local Indian bands located along the Kinder Morgan Pipeline,” said Arthur Manuel of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade. “The Supreme Court of Canada was very clear that Aboriginal right is a collective right and not a “federal Indian Band right. Indeed, the Supreme Court of Canada made it clear that indigenous people are the rightful titleholders and not the band.”
Michael Maclean says:
July 20, 2016 10:28pm
Any defense of new infrastucture that does not include specific science of managing risks of spillage and meeting - rather lax, new global carbon emmissions requirements, not to mention the rights of regional communities to reject unmanageble risk to their own health and labour needs, is quite simply not worthy of consideration because it is an obsolete lack of inclusion of all factors.
Not what we want to face, but we are going to hit that carbon wall where it destabilizes our environment past financial capacity to balance the costs of drastic weather, the scarcity of clean water which is a classic precurser to all out war and mass migration. Need I mention ocean acidification? Anyone not understanding the implications of that should do some research. And then come back to this discussion.
Earl Richards says:
July 20, 2016 04:16pm
Pierre Filisetti says:
July 20, 2016 06:33am
Robert George Barriere says:
July 19, 2016 06:39pm
Our farm has a Kinder Morgan pipeline going across one of our fields,by our house at 30 feet and up the hill parallel to Westsyde Road and then south at the top.It has been there for a long time. It is checked once a week by helicopter.On occasion it has been checked by a slug sent through it and on one occasion had a welding repair part way up the hill.Kinder Morgan regularly send literature in the mail on pipeline safety etc. Other than all that you would never know it was there,including where the repair was made.Once a new pipeline is buried and the ground leveled,it,s a very short time until nature itself repairs the so called and overemphisized environmental damage caused by the temporary disturbance.
We live above the CNR railway.We see a great many oil cars that have travelled over a hundred miles along the Thompson River.only a stones throw away.So far no derailments into the River,but the chances are of that happening is inevitable,and the results would be devastating.Cleaning up spilt bitumen in that fast flowing river would be all but impossible.It is then that the young ladies dreams of death and sickness would be realized.
The pipeline should not go to Burnaby and Burrard inlet.That is an extremely bad idea,Better to a very long jetty projecting out into some part of The Salish Sea where the very large tankers now in use along with the tugboats involved would have a great deal more room to manuever than in the close,very crowded and populous area of Burnaby.Cherry Point in Washington would be likely spot as well.