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Lower Mainland cities apply for oil pipeline hearings

A tanker takes on oil at Kinder Morgan
A tanker takes on oil at Kinder Morgan's Westridge Marine Terminal in north Burnaby. Booms are set up to guard against a spill while loading.
— image credit: Kinder Morgan Canada

A total of 2,131 individuals and organizations have signed up to participate in National Energy Board hearings later this year into Kinder Morgan's proposed twinning of its Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

The deadline to apply expired Wednesday night.

B.C. municipalities seeking either intervenor or commenter status include Victoria, Vancouver, Burnaby, North Vancouver (city and district), West Vancouver, Belcarra, Port Moody, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Richmond, White Rock, Surrey, Langley Township, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope, Merritt and Kamloops.

The Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Capital and Fraser-Fort George regional districts also registered, as did the Vancouver Parks Board, Port Metro Vancouver and organizations from the Vancouver Board of Trade to various environmental groups.

The $5.4-billion expansion would nearly triple the existing 60-year-old pipeline's capacity to 890,000 barrels of oil per day. If approved, 400 oil tankers a year would sail through Vancouver harbour, up from about 60 now. Hundreds of additional oil tankers already carry Alaskan crude oil to refineries in Washington State.

Surrey Coun. Barinder Rasode said Surrey wants in on the hearings out of concern for sensitive environmental habitat along the potential pipeline route through north Surrey, as well as any disruption to neighbourhoods and broader regional concerns, such as the risks of increased oil tanker shipments.

Asked if Surrey city council is at odds with the Surrey Board of Trade, which supports the new pipeline, Rasode said no.

"The board of trade is very specific in their role within the city around the economic development portfolio for business," she said. "We are tasked with a much broader responsibility around sustainability."

Numerous aboriginal groups have also applied, including the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations and three more Coast Salish bands in Washington State that say their fisheries and harvesting areas would be threatened by a potential oil spill in the Salish Sea.

"We are united in our resolve to protect our land, water and air from this risky project," said Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas. "We will use all lawful means to oppose it."

The NEB will review each application and decide which will be granted standing and whether they'll be intervenors or just commenters, spokesperson Sarah Kiley said.

Only applicants who demonstrate they are "directly affected" by the project can be approved.

Also under review is Kinder Morgan's project application to ensure it's complete.

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