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Langley Township council delays decision on intervenor status

Byron Smith’s family owns property near Fort Langley which could be on the new pipeline route. He wants Langley Township council to register as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline expansion. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Byron Smith’s family owns property near Fort Langley which could be on the new pipeline route. He wants Langley Township council to register as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline expansion.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

It will be another two weeks before Langley Township council decides if it wants to be part of public hearings on a proposal to twin the oil pipeline that runs though Langley.

Councillor Kim Richter wanted council to make the decision on Monday to apply for intervenor status at the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings on the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion application.

But that vote was postponed until the next scheduled meeting of council, to allow Township staff to research the matter.

That means the council decision will take place on Feb. 3, which is still before the Feb. 12 deadline the NEB has set for applications.

Mayor Jack Froese argued for the delay, saying council needs to have "a very solid basis for that application" before making a decision that could cost as much as $100,000.

Froese suggested Langley could partner up with neighbouring Abbotsford, which is also considering an intervenor application.

Councillor David Davis indicated he will be voting yes when the question comes back to council.

"If we don't belly up to the bar, we won't know what's going on," Davis said.

Councillor Richter has the same view.

"I think we need to have a seat at that table," said Richter, who agreed to the postponement.

Intervenors, if accepted by the NEB, can file written evidence and ask the applicant questions.

If Kinder Morgan wins approval from the federal agency, construction would take place over 2016 and 2017.

A Kinder Morgan representative has said the proposed route through Langley may be altered to avoid a stretch of farmland near the Salmon River by taking a “jog” through the Redwoods Golf Course, which is owned by the Township. The current pipeline runs through the urban area of Walnut Grove, which Kinder Morgan wishes to avoid with its new pipeline.

Byron Smith, who speaks for a group of local residents opposed to the expansion, has urged council to file for intervenor status, saying it would "negligent" to do otherwise.

City councils in Vancouver and Burnaby have already said they will apply for intervenor status.

Both those councils are opposed to additional oil tankers using Vancouver harbor.

Under the Kinder Morgan plan,the existing oil pipeline built from Edmonton to Burnaby would be twinned to more than double capacity to 890,000 barrels a day of crude and refined oil products.

The cost of the entire project, including construction of the pipeline, additional pumping stations, storage tanks and expanding the marine terminal, will be $5.4 billion.

Kinder Morgan says difficulty shipping oil from Alberta, including the oilsands projects, to foreign markets is costing the Canadian economy $50 million a day because the crude has to be sold for up to $40 per barrel less.

If the pipeline is built, the federal government will collect an additional $2.1 billion in taxes over 20 years.

The B.C. government will collect an additional $1 billion.

Kinder Morgan now pays $367,000 in municipal taxes to the Township of Langley, but that figure will rise to $942,000 when the twinned pipeline is complete, the company projects.

- with files from Frank Bucholtz

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