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Vancouver cites environmental impact, tanker traffic concerns in Trans Mountain submission

The City of Vancouver says it has concerns over the impact of increased tanker traffic on its residents and businesses.


With concerns about everything from the impact of oil spills on local beaches to global climate change, Vancouver has joined a growing list of municipalities applying to participate in National Energy Board hearings into the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

"The proposal to massively expand the amount of oil shipped through Burrard Inlet from Kinder Morgan Inc. represents all risk and no benefit for Vancouver," Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a brief e-mail statement after the city joined those applying to the NEB.

The application deadline for those who want to participate is Wednesday.

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The City of Vancouver has long questioned the $5.4-billion project, which if approved would see Kinder Morgan nearly triple the capacity of its pipeline, which for 60 years has been moving oil from Alberta across B.C. to a loading facility in Burnaby on Burrard Inlet.

The company, which did not offer comment on Vancouver's submission, filed its application with the NEB in December, kicking off a review process similar to the one recently completed for the Enbridge Inc. Northern Gateway proposal in northern B.C.

In its application, Vancouver states the project includes "substantial increases in tanker traffic, land-based storage and transport of dilbit [heavy oil], all of which directly impact and increase risks to Vancouver's economy, public health and safety, and the environment."

It states the project could have a direct impact on "Vancouver's international reputation as one of the most liveable cities in the world," and that if the port was closed because of an oil spill it would cost the Canadian economy $20-million a day.

"Vancouver, its businesses and residents, including Vancouver's $3.6-billion/year tourism industry, rely on parks, beaches, the 22 km seawall and waterways for benefits of use, enjoyment and added value," the submission states. "Vancouver's commercial and residential property is worth $250-billion. Businesses and residents will be impacted by increased tanker traffic and [by] any spill-related disruption to waterfront and beach access or commercial use."

The application also states that Vancouver has a responsibility for "mitigating impacts of severe weather events and rising sea levels … [and] the project, through its impact on global GHG emissions, will significantly increase the overall need for and costs of adaptation."

Adriane Carr, a Vancouver city councillor who two years ago first urged council to object to the project, praised Mr. Robertson for making sure the city has a voice at NEB hearings.

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"I'm proud Vancouver has taken a leadership role in saying we have to take climate change seriously," she said. "We have a commitment to reduce our greenhouse-gas footprint. You can't support something like the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project, which is absolutely linked to the expansion of production of the tar sands, and hold true to that commitment to combat climate change."

The City of North Vancouver said expansion of the Westridge Marine Terminal poses a threat to six kilometres of public beaches in the waterfront. The Village of Belcarra, which is on Indian Arm just east of Burnaby, also expressed concerns, stating in its NEB application that "the increased noise and light pollution … would negatively impact the quality of life for Belcarra's property owners, and therefore [reduce] property values."

The cities of Burnaby, Coquitlam and Surrey, and the province of B.C., have also applied for intervener status, expressing concerns about potential economic, environmental and public health issues.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More


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