Can a small group of people stop the pipeline?

During the townhall meeting on the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline, Mayor Derek Corrigan said, “I don’t want to pretend to you the game isn’t fixed. I know the game is fixed. … We are up against it, but … things start with a small group of people.” It’s a bit of a homage to the well-known quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Now, our mayor is no Margaret Mead, and he has no illusions about the fact that small groups of thoughtful folks often get bulldozed by big corporations – but he has a good point.

If Burnaby citizens don’t rise up and march and sing and write and raise a holy stink about the pipeline expansion, odds are even better that the pipeline will be built.

But, if it’s any consolation to those who are opposing the expansion, clearly the pipeline company is not entirely deaf to public perceptions. The fact that Kinder Morgan is now pondering another route change, one that involves drilling through Burnaby Mountain and avoiding the Westridge neighbourhood altogether, is interesting. Does this really make any difference to those opposed to the expansion? Probably not. But it could lead observers to suspect that the huge company is not entirely sure that it can have everything it wants.

But that aside, the largest, and in our opinion best argument against a major expansion is that Burrard Inlet is simply not the place to have massive oil tanker traffic. Toughly eight tankers fill up at the Westridge Marine Terminal each month, but if the pipeline expansion is approved, that number would increase to 34 – which translates to 408 per year.

All it would take is one accident on water, or on the hill, for Burnaby to be transformed from a green city into a very black, ugly one. That’s simply not worth the risk.

© Burnaby Now

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