Kwantlen Nation stunned to learn of Kinder Morgan drilling

Members of Kwantlen First Nation in Langley were surprised to discover that Kinder Morgan had just wrapped up one week of Burnaby-Mountain-style borehole drilling on their traditional territory.

The southwest B.C. aboriginal community, an hour’s drive from Vancouver, held a press conference to raise alarm about the drilling activity, that appeared to come without notice.

“”There was absolutely no communication whatsoever,”” said band member Brandon Gabriel on Thursday.

“It’s speaks volumes to how they do business. The fact they keep changing the markers of where they do test drilling speaks volumes to the underhanded nature of their business practice,”” he added.

The lack of communication about the drilling left many Kwantlen believing the Texas-based company is attempting to be secretive to avoid protests.

Aboriginal drummers with the Kwantlen First Nation at a Kinder Morgan protest Thursday near the Belmont Golf Course. Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

About 70 people, including the Kwantlen’s chief and band councillors, held the protest just metres from where the borehole drilling took place near the Belmont Golf Course.

Kinder Morgan said Thursday it dug 30-metre-deep boreholes near the Salmon River, and on Rawlison Crescent.

“The sites are both on private property, not municipal lands,” wrote a company spokesperson.

Gabriel told the crowd the band only found out about the drilling through social media and from a salmon conservation group that contacted them to let them know.

The Salmon River Enhancement Society, a non-profit water stewardship charity, noticed the Kinder Morgan drillers in recent days, and took photos. The company work crews appeared to have wrapped up on Monday.

Kinder Morgan said it received permission from the Township of Langley and the private landowners where the drilling took place. But a local resident said the people need to be informed too.

“The township did not make the citizens aware. That’s a problem,” said Shane Dyson, who attended the rally, and lives nearby.

“This will be going on in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope – across the Fraser Valley where they’ll be doing their drill testing.”

“We need to have citizen oversight,” he added.

The company declined to state where else it will conduct further borehole testing, but it is widely believed to be going on throughout the Lower Fraser Valley.

The company is seeking to understand the underground geology all along the 1,000-kilometre-plus pipeline route between Edmonton and Burnaby.

Kwantlen Elder Farley Antone said his people have long been opposed to the company’s incursions into Kwantlen lands and waterways.

“”A few years ago, when we were first introduced to Kinder Morgan…I had four words for them. Over my dead body,” said the Elder, to cheers from the crowd.

Kwantlen members also expressed frustration that the National Energy Board’s recent Aboriginal oral hearing in Chillwack did not allow for any critical questioning of the company’s project.

Kinder Morgan’s lawyer infamously asked the band at that hearing if the community still eats fish.

Pipeline opponents plan town hall meeting in Langley

Opponents of a proposal that would expand the Trans Mountain pipeline running through Langley have scheduled a town hall meeting on the $5.4 billion project for Wednesday, March 6 at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Langley campus.

Sven Biggs, campaign organizer with the ForestEthics Advocacy Association, described the meeting as a “warm-up act” for the debate that will begin when the pipeline company files detailed plans for the project later this year.

“We’re going to push for a very robust environmental assessment,” Biggs told the Times Thursday (Feb. 21).

The Langley event will be the ninth in a series of public awareness forums held by a coalition of environmental groups since last July, including meetings in Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, Burnaby, Abbotsford and West Vancouver.

Biggs said the coalition has been concentrating its efforts on the communities that will be affected directly or indirectly by the planned pipeline expansion

“It seems very unlikely that it will avoid the community of Langley,” Biggs said.

Trans Mountain owner Kinder Morgan wants to expand its current 1,150-kilometre pipeline that runs between Strathcona County, near Edmonton, and Burnaby.

The proposed expansion, if approved, would create a twinned pipeline and increase capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels.

The company has said the new pipeline would follow the existing pipeline route wherever practical, but it may be redirected in urban areas.

In Langley, the existing TransMountain pipeline comes from the east near 56 Avenue, adjacent to the Gloucester Industrial Park.

It crosses north Langley, north of the freeway, diagonally in a northwest direction.

It remains on the high ground for most of its route through Langley, and crosses 240 Street near 80 Avenue. It continues on the high ground, crossing the CN Rawlison rail line that connects the main CN line to the CP line to Deltaport near 232 Street.

From the Rawlison rail line, the pipeline cuts to the northwest, and is adjacent to the well-known “castle” on Rawlison Crescent, once owned by the late Fritz Ziegler.

Just west of there, the pipeline crosses the Salmon River and then cuts through Belmont Golf Course.

From there it continues in a northwesterly direction to Walnut Grove, where it goes through a number of residential neighbourhoods. Much of the right-of-way in Walnut Grove is occupied by walking and cycling trails.

West of 202 Street, the pipeline goes through commercial and industrial areas and enters Surrey near 94 Avenue in the Port Kells industrial area. In Surrey, it remains north of Highway 1 until about 108 Avenue. It crosses the freeway in an area that has been rebuilt as part of the widening of Highway 1. It crosses the Fraser River just to the west of the new Port Mann bridge.

The pipeline began operation in 1953.

The company estimates the project will bring a nearly seven-fold increase in the number of tankers to about 34 a month or about 400 per year loading at its Burnaby terminal.

Kinder Morgan expects to file its formal application to twin the pipeline with the National Energy Board by the end of the year.

If approved, the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline could be operational late in 2017.

The company says it has staged 37 public information sessions in 32 communities including Langley since the proposal was announced.

More are planned.

The Wednesday, March 6 town hall meeting at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Langley campus will take place at 7 p.m. in the university auditorium at 20901 Langley Bypass (Glover Road entrance).