Pipeline planners hear from public

The TransMountain pipeline expansion plans drew hundreds of people to an open house held by pipeline owner Kinder Morgan on Wednesday night.

The meeting was to talk to residents of the region, including Langley and Surrey, about the various proposed routes of the expanded pipeline.

Kinder Morgan has applied to the National Energy Board to almost triple capacity on its oil pipeline that runs from near Edmonton to Burnaby, with part of its length passing through Abbotsford, Langley, and Surrey.

The $5.4 billion proposed project would increase the amount of oil flowing through the pipes from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 per day.

They also plan to reroute the pipe around some neighbourhoods that have developed over the intervening years.

The meeting Wednesday showed the possible routes and allowed locals to comment on them, for feedback and information that can go to the National Energy Board, said Lizette Parsons Bell, a Kinder Morgan spokesperson.

In Langley, proposed changes in the route to avoid heavily built up areas in Walnut Grove have already attracted a great deal of interest from some residents. Farm owners around the Fort Langley floodplain expressed their displeasure at a possible route there, as did homeowners near another possible route, which would run through the Redwoods Golf Course, a future Township park.

Quite a few of the residents at Wednesday’s meeting were not happy with the pipeline expansion in general or its proposed route.

The Mancinellis, Jerry and Joy, are worried that the pipeline will blow a hole in their retirement plans.

“I always wanted to live with 800,000 barrels of bitumen a day going through my backyard,” said Joy.

The Fraser Heights couple were told that the pipeline could be on their property.

“I’m worried about my property value,” said Jerry.

Jerry is 80, and the couple are starting to think about selling their longtime home to a developer so they can afford a comfortable retirement. 

“It’s our life savings,” Joy said of their property. Who will want to develop there with an oil pipeline on the property, she said.

Walnut Grove’s Gayle Doren was also unhappy that the tax benefits add up to very little compared to the potential downsides.

“Based on everything I’ve read and heard, it’s completely unconscionable,” said Doren.

Long term costs and potential spills worry her.

“It’s the oil companies that will benefit, not this community,” she said.

Marty Vander Zalm was also worried about the amount that could spill, compared to the amount that could spill from a tanker truck or train car hauling oil.

“There’s nothing in it for the Canadian people,” said Vander Zalm.

Several other people at the event said they were there primarily to get more information.

The National Energy Board is planning to start its hearings on the pipeline expansion in January next year. Fewer than 20 per cent of those who applied to become intervenors have received that status, the NEB announced this week. About 400 intervenors will be joined by another 1,250 people given commenter status with the NEB.

According to Kinder Morgan staff, at least 140 people visited the forum in Langley.

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