East Burnaby residents caught between pipeline routes

Residents in a Burnaby townhouse complex have organized an ad hoc group to raise their concerns about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

Their housing complex in east Burnaby is situated between the two study corridors Kinder Morgan is considering for the pipeline’s route, and according to maps in the company’s National Energy Board application, the complex is in a spill zone.

“There’s this great big pooling area, and we are in the middle of it,” said Pat Howard, recalling the 2007 Kinder Morgan pipeline rupture that coated North Burnaby homes with crude. “The picture that immediately pops in our heads is our complex and oil flowing through it.”

The townhouse complex, Village del Ponte, is on Bridgewater Court, close to Lougheed Highway and North Road. The complex’s centerpiece is a pond and a creek that connects to Brunette River.

SFU professor Bob Hackett, who also lives in the complex, told the NOW the residents have had several ad hoc meetings and raised a list of concerns, including the impact on property values, concern about water quality, the closeness of the pipeline route to schools, the risk of explosions or fires and the fact they are in a spill zone.

“We haven’t got any information about seismic protection. What would happen in medium or strong earthquakes?” Hackett asked.

Hackett also said the pipeline process seems “profoundly inadequate” and that most of the residents had received no information from Trans Mountain. However, Hackett did receive a hand-delivered letter informing him about the pipeline project and the chance to apply as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearing, but the letter was dated Jan. 15 and not delivered till Jan. 31 – that’s roughly halfway into the application period, which ends on Feb. 12 at 11 p.m. Pacific time.

Hackett also spoke to two real estate agents, and their views were that property values at the complex would likely rebound in the long-term, but if people want to sell their homes, it may take longer while pipeline construction is going on.

“We have people who actually, right now, are trying to sell their homes,” Howard added.
The complex consists of 106 households, and roughly half have signed up to be on the ad hoc group’s list.

To make matters more complex, residents have received information that Kinder Morgan is no longer interested in the route down Lougheed and has shifted focus to the alternate route, which runs south of the complex. The alternate route runs by the Brunette River and CN rail line and along a stretch of the abandoned Burlington Northern Santa Fe right-of-way, which is now a trail that many of the residents use regularly. Howard said the greenway is one of the selling points for the complex.

“Either route is going to affect the value of our homes,” Howard said. “We own seven-and-a-half acres, but our neighbourhood, within walking distance, includes this beautiful area.”

The residents want to apply to intervene on behalf of the complex, and Howard plans to also apply, while Hackett has done so already.

For more information on the project, go to www.transmountain.com, but note that the site’s interactive map does not show the alternate route, which Kinder Morgan is now more interested in. For a map with both routes, go to the National Energy Board’s site, www.neb-one.gc.ca, to see Kinder Morgan’s facilities application, which is an estimated 15,000 pages, or go to click here and look for the Burnaby image.

© Burnaby Now

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