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Pipeline opponents speak out at forum

Ben West (left) of ForestEthics Advocacy addresses a Wednesday night forum on plans to twin the  Kinder Morgan oil pipeline, as Rex Wyler (centre) of Greenpeace and Lekeyten (right), an elder of the Kwantlen First Nation listen. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Ben West (left) of ForestEthics Advocacy addresses a Wednesday night forum on plans to twin the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline, as Rex Wyler (centre) of Greenpeace and Lekeyten (right), an elder of the Kwantlen First Nation listen.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

About 120 people turned out for a town hall-style meeting about a $5.4 billion proposed project that would twin the Trans Mountain pipeline that runs through Langley.

The Wednesday night, March 6 event at the Langley campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University was the ninth in a series of public awareness forums staged by a coalition of environmental groups since last July, including meetings in Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, Burnaby, Abbotsford and West Vancouver.

A spokesman for one of the groups, Ben West, the tar sands director for the ForestEthics Advocacy Association, came armed with photos of burst oil pipelines in Kalamazoo in July of 2010 and Burnaby in 2007

“Spills happen on a regular basis,” West warned.

“Is this a smart direction for us to go? I think the answer for B.C. is obvious.”

West predicted the doubling of the pipeline will more than double tanker traffic because the second, newer line will be entirely for export.

Another speaker, Michael Hale of the PIPE-UP Network, said his assessment shows the new pipeline will provide no more than 35 new jobs once construction is finished.

The heavy tar from the oil sands is a heavier, more polluting kind of petroleum, Hale said after the meeting.

“We’re really into an age of dirty oil,” Hale said.

There was at least one pipeline supporter who spoke to him after the two-hour meeting ended, Hale said.

He described the conversation as polite.

Hale said turnout for the meetings has been slowly but steadily growing from the 60 who showed up for the very first one held in Abbotsford last year. Organizers are considering holding the next in Surrey.

Other speakers at the two-hour meeting included a Kwantlen First Nation elder, Lekeyten, who opened the meeting with a traditional song.

Rex Wyler, co-founder of Greenpeace, Eoin Madden of the Wilderness Committee and activists Lynne Perrin and Amanda Nahanee also spoke.

Trans Mountain owner Kinder Morgan wants to expand the current 1,150-kilometre pipeline that runs between Strathcona County, near Edmonton, and Burnaby.

The proposed expansion, if approved, would create a twinned pipeline and increase capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels.

The company has said the new pipeline would follow the existing pipeline route wherever practical, but it may be redirected in urban areas.

In Langley, the existing Trans Mountain pipeline comes from the east near 56 Avenue, adjacent to the Gloucester Industrial Park. It crosses north Langley, north of the freeway, diagonally in a northwest direction.

It remains on the high ground for most of its route through Langley, and crosses 240 Street near 80 Avenue. It continues on the high ground, crossing the CN Rawlison rail line that connects the main CN line to the CP line to Deltaport near 232 Street.

From the Rawlison rail line, the pipeline cuts to the northwest, then crosses the Salmon River and then cuts through Belmont Golf Course.

From there it continues in a northwesterly direction to Walnut Grove, where it goes through a number of residential neighbourhoods. Much of the right-of-way in Walnut Grove is occupied by walking and cycling trails.

West of 202 Street, the pipeline goes through commercial and industrial areas and enters Surrey near 94 Avenue in the Port Kells industrial area. In Surrey, it remains north of Highway 1 until about 108 Avenue. It crosses the freeway in an area that is now subject of heavy construction,as a result of the Port Mann Bridge project and freeway widening. It crosses the Fraser River just to the west of the new Port Mann Bridge.

The company estimates the project will bring a nearly seven-fold increase in the number of tankers to about 34 a month or about 400 per year loading at its Burnaby terminal.

Kinder Morgan expects to file its formal application to twin the pipeline with the National Energy Board by the end of the year. If approved, the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline could be operational late in 2017.

The company says it has staged 37 public information sessions in 32 communities, including Langley, since the proposal was announced. More are planned.

- with files from Jeff Nagel and Frank Bucholtz

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