72 per cent of Burnaby-Douglas opposes Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion

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Wanda Chow
Updated: January 19, 2012 10:15 AM

A survey commissioned by Burnaby-Douglas New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart shows 72 per cent of households in his constituency oppose a proposal to twin Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

The company has stated that until Jan. 19, it is putting a call out for secure and binding contracts from customers, both domestic and foreign oil companies, for the additional capacity.

If an adequate market emerges through the contracts, to last 15 to 20 years, the company is expected to begin the process of applying to the National Energy Board to double the capacity of the pipeline, which runs from Edmonton to North Burnaby and currently carries 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

Stewart’s automated telephone survey, conducted between Dec. 5 and 7 by Direct Leap Technologies, called just about every household in his constituency, almost 35,000 homes.

Of those, more than 4,500 participated, or 13 per cent, which is considered a high response rate for automated surveys, he said.

Of the 70 per cent of decided respondents, 28 per cent support the twinning, 44 per cent want to keep the existing pipeline as is, and 28 per cent want the pipeline removed altogether. Stewart combined the latter two groups to conclude 72 per cent oppose the expansion proposal.

He noted that 30 per cent of respondents answered “I don’t know.” That shows “there’s lots of room for discussion here and a need for it if the proposal goes ahead.”

Stewart said, “The level of opposition is quite high even though the project hasn’t been formally proposed and people don’t know exactly how they’ll be affected.”

Then again, the 44 per cent who support keeping the pipeline as is shows “they’re being realistic here.” That meshes with comments he hears when doorknocking, that many people recognizes its role in supplying the region with gasoline, jet fuel and other petroleum products.

He noted that the proposed Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines are continually making news headlines lately, but little has been reported about the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

“It’s been flying under the radar and I think if Kinder Morgan does go ahead with the proposal it has the potential to garner the national and international attention that the other pipeline proposals have received.”

Stewart’s interpretation of the survey results is that while many in the community support Kinder Morgan’s operations in Burnaby, an expansion of its pipeline capacity has the potential to cause that support to drop.

“That’s one of the risks they’d be taking if they went ahead with this proposal would be they would lose support within the community.”

A Mustel poll showed 69 per cent of British Columbians do not support a proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline, he noted.