Citizen Action Monitor

BC municipal leaders, acting in concert, press provincial and federal governments to put environment ahead of economy

Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby resolutions target Kinder Morgan and National Energy Board over pipelines

No 1154 Posted by fw, September 29, 2014

It is so refreshing to see this burst of municipal activism, to see BC cities acting in concert to pressure big oil, the BC provincial government and the fed’s National Energy Board to put the environment ahead of the economy for once.

Click on the following linked title to read the original account of municipal activism. Alternatively, below is a significantly revised version with added subheadings and text highlighting.

Cities rising: B.C. municipal leaders demand a bigger say over oil pipelines, by Mychaylo Prystupa, Vancouver Observer, September 27, 2014

A convention of B.C. municipal leaders in Whistler this week revealed a new wave of local government activism against Kinder Morgan and the National Energy Board. One visible sign of rising local government activism against oil pipeline projects from Alberta was on municipal leaders’ wrists: a simple blue band.

Michelle Bell CouncillorMany like Duncan city councillor Michelle Bell wore one. “People aren’t feeling heard and included in the [NEB] process.  If we have an [oil spill] disaster, it’s something we cannot reverse,” said the Vancouver Island politician.

Their worry is the federal government’s new faster, streamlined process — for approving oil sands pipelines like the Trans Mountain expansion project — is not responding to their constituents’ concerns.

Vancouver city councillor Heather Deal, who is also a biologist, is concerned Kinder Morgan hasn’t made the case for proper spill clean-ups in freshwater eco-systems. “Most oil floats – bitumen doesn’t.  It sinks,” said Deal.

[Michelle Bell], along with leaders of other heavy weight communities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Victoria – supported UBCM motions aimed squarely against Kinder Morgan and the National Energy Board.

The blue [wristband] ribbons – which were embossed with the Latin phrase Intra Vires meaning “within our jurisdiction” – was a way to identify supporters of these motions.

“So that’s what you see around the conference – mayors and councillors from across B.C. wearing blue [wristbands] just to indicate their support for Burnaby, Vancouver and Victoria,” said Kai Nagata, with the Dogwood Initiative that created the wristbands.

[NGOs] West Coast Environmental Law and the Georgia Straight Alliance also supported the effort.

Resolutions from Vancouver, Victoria and Burnaby passed

  • “So the City of Vancouver [motion said] that we need to have the appropriate prevention and emergency response requirements in place for bitumen that submerges and sinks.”
  • Likewise, a City of Victoria motion suggested it had lost confidence in the NEB, and wants the province to restore its own environmental reviews of pipelines.
  • And Burnaby – fresh off a legal win Thursday that put Kinder Morgan’s test drilling on Burnaby Mountain on hold – [Burnaby’s motion] demanded that the NEB’s public hearings be changed. Mayor Derek Corrigan said the pipeline reviews need to once again allow citizens to have oral hearings and cross examinations – not just written letters of comment. “I think everyone is worried that the [NEB] process doesn’t deliver a suitable opportunity to get all of the evidence out about what are the faults and flaws in the Kinder Morgan application,” said Mayor Derek Corrigan at the convention.

But some leaders were irritated by this new wave of municipal government activism on pipelines.

“I’m just not sure this is the appropriate forum,” said North Cowichan Councillor Al Siebring.

“As municipal politicians, we are mandated to deal with municipal issues….water, sewage, garbage, roads. We run the danger of becoming a social pressure group, and that is not what UBCM is set up for, and that’s not what we’re here for – we’re here to deal with municipal issues.”

Burnaby’s resolution to ask NEB to reject Kinder Morgan pipeline application falls short

Earlier in the week at the convention, Burnaby had also proposed a much bolder resolution – asking local governments to support its call to ask the NEB to throw out Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline application entirely, as too risky for dense urban environments.

But in the closest of margins, it was defeated – 50.7 per cent opposed, to 49.3 per cent supporting, in a vote that required an electronic re-count.

Many interior B.C. leaders, like the Mayor of Kamloops, said they support Kinder Morgan.

“I don’t share the same concerns about the Kinder Morgan pipeline that Burnaby does,” said Mayor Peter Milobar Friday. “They’ve been a good corporate entity in our community for 60 years.  Never had an issue with them.  And I think you’ll find that on the vast majority [of communities] along the pipeline. If we want to talk about the effects of a pipeline spill, why are we not including the rail companies in that conversation?”

BC Premier Christy Clark sees economic benefits, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan sees environmental costs

Even [BC] Premier Christy Clark – in a speech that exalted the benefits of resource development that urbanites sometimes forget – appeared to take a swipe at Burnaby’s mayor.

“We also should understand that in Burnaby we depend on the resource sector for our very survival,” said Clark in her remarks at the close of the convention.

For his part, Mayor Corrigan said:

“There’s kind of a resigned acceptance that whatever happens, these companies are going to be moving their oil – pipeline, or rail, or by tanker truck – that come hell or high water that oil is coming through. That kind of resigned acceptance is not something I’m prepared to do.”

Kinder Morgan Canada was requested to make comment on this story late Friday.  We will update this story, when they do.

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