The application period opened on Jan. 15, and the deadline to apply is Feb. 12. Stewart, whose riding is home to the pipeline’s terminus, is critical of the NEB, mainly for having cancelled a public info session in Burnaby on how local residents can get involved in the process.
“The whole way the NEB has been doing this has been very upsetting,” Stewart told the NOW, adding that the board did not put out a media release the day the application period opened. “It’s been such a sneak attack.”
Stewart has recruited 15 volunteers and set up extra computers in his office to help people sign up as intervenors. He’s also sent direct mailings to everyone in his constituency and a voicemail phone broadcast to 30,000 homes in the riding, he’s taken out ads in bus shelters and local newspapers, and he’s hired an extra staff member to help with the workload. He’s also launched a website called LetBCDecide.ca.
“The phone has just been ringing off the hook today, and we’re closed,” he said on Monday. “I really think this is the key part of my job, to alert the community about things that are happening here and to try and get them involved. This is the biggest project to come to Burnaby, and because it’s federal jurisdiction, I think it’s a key part of my responsibility. I think people will be very upset if this pipeline is approved and they didn’t have a chance to be heard.”
The National Energy Board allows people who have relevant expertise or are directly affected by the project to act as intervenors in the Kinder Morgan pipeline hearing. Intervenors will be able to ask Kinder Morgan and other intervenors questions and present evidence that supports their position, be it for or against the pipeline expansion.
At press time, 50 people had signed up as intervenors, and Stewart estimates half of those people have either been in contact with his office or signed up directly at his office.
“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of calls that we’re dealing with,” Stewart said.
As for Stewart’s criticism that the NEB is staging a “sneak attack,” spokesperson Sarah Kiley said that’s not the case.
“I really want to be firm on this there’s no desire on our part to limit participation,” she told the NOW.
Kiley pointed out that the NEB is hosting sessions online and on the phone for anyone who needs help with the application process. The upcoming sessions are on Jan. 22, 27 and 28. Go to www.eply.com/TransmountainPipelineHearing to register.
Kiley confirmed the NEB did not issue a press release when the application period had opened on Jan. 15.
“We’ve never really done one in the past, but we tried to follow up with media … on a more personal level,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to make it easy for people to sign up.”
For more info on applying as an intervenor, either through Stewart’s office or the NEB, go to Jennifer Moreau’s blog or call Stewart’s office at 604-291-8863.