A 2015 protest against the oil pipeline expansion in Fort Langley. (Langley Advance files)

Langley Township seeks more control over Trans Mountain construction

The Township is calling for help from its fellow municipalities.

Langley Township wants the Trans Mountain oil pipeline to respect local rules and regulations before major work begins on the controversial expansion.

The Township has put forward a resolution for this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) annual convention, taking place this Sept. 10 to 14 in Whistler.

The resolution calls for the federal and provincial governments to “establish enforceable protocols and legally binding agreements” to ensure that the pipeline work complies with local municipal permits before any construction begins.

Last December, the National Energy Board (NEB) ruled that Trans Mountain could undertake construction work in Burnaby even without city zoning approvals.

The Township’s UBCMP motion notes this ruling “has significantly undermined opportunities for all accountable local governments, regions, territories and First Nations representative bodies to protect our local communities from a plethora of environmental and social maladies potentially associated,” with the pipeline project.

Township Mayor Jack Froese said one of the 157 conditions under which the Trans Mountain pipeline is being expanded already requires that the pipeline comply with local bylaws and construction regulations.

But the NEB can overrule local regulations if they’re seen to be deliberately impeding the pipeline.

The resolution is another tool to attempt to ensure local regulations are respected, Froese said.

“We would expect them still to apply… under our permits,” Froese said.

The Township has not been an enthusiastic fan of plans to expand the pipeline.

During public hearings in 2016, the Township’s official statement noted that “Trans Mountain has chosen to pursue approval for the TMX [pipeline] through the most densely populated corridor it could have chosen between Alberta and the Pacific Ocean.”

The Township also raised concerns about the “true cost” of hosting the pipeline, with additional expenses incurred every time the Township builds a road, cleans ditches, or does any other major work near the new stretch of pipeline.

The cost is expected to be in the millions over the years of the pipeline’s operation.

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