Kinder Morgan may abandon Burnaby Mountain pipeline route if delays continue

Kinder Morgan may revert back to its original pipeline route through the Westridge neighbourhood if the city’s opposition to the project significantly delays survey work on Burnaby Mountain.

While the city is seeking an injunction to stop Kinder Morgan’s survey work in the conservation area, the company is seeking an order from the National Energy Board to force the city to allow the work.

“This work is planned and necessary in order to meet the deadlines from the National Energy Board,” said Kinder Morgan spokesperson Ali Hounsell. “We have to have the information from the studies, to find out if this route is feasible by Dec. 1. If they continue to delay the work, we’ll have to consider whether we abandon the option of going through Burnaby Mountain, which as you know, we believe is a less disruptive route.”

Last Monday, Hounsell said the city’s move was disappointing because there is already a proceeding underway with the National Energy Board.

“We believe we are authorized to do the work,” she said.

Kinder Morgan wants to tunnel or drill through Burnaby Mountain to connect the tank farm with the Westridge Marine Terminal, but since this route was not in the original application to the NEB, the board asked the company to conduct survey work and geotechnical studies to determine if the route is feasible. (The terrain includes steep dropoffs and cliffs and may not be seismically sound.) The National Energy Board gave Kinder Morgan a Dec. 1 deadline to complete the survey work, and the company began in late August.

According to section 73 of the National Energy Board Act, companies can conduct work on private property and Crown land without the landowners’ permission. But when Kinder Morgan started cutting trees in the city-owned conservation area, Burnaby issued a stop-work order and ticketed the company for breaking a local bylaw by damaging a city park. Kinder Morgan then went back to the NEB for an order that would force the city to allow it to continue. Meanwhile the city asked the B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction to stop the work, while asking the court to deal with the larger question of jurisdiction: Who controls the mountain? The federal government or the city?

(The province gives cities the authority to enact and enforce bylaws.)

According to Hounsell, Kinder Morgan has not been working on the mountain since Sept. 3.

“We voluntarily left Burnaby Mountain, ceasing all that work in order to seek that order from the National Energy Board to proceed. There is no work going on there right now,” Hounsell said.

But if the survey work falls too far behind schedule, Kinder Morgan may have to go back to the original idea of running the pipeline through the Westridge neighbourhood. The reason the company changed plans and proposed the Burnaby Mountain route is because of opposition from residents in Westridge, many of whom did not want a pipeline in their neighbourhood. (The route would pass through four private properties.)

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