B.C. residents split on Kinder Morgan pipeline project, poll finds

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British Columbians remain split over Kinder Morgan’s proposal to twin the TransMountain pipeline in order to transport crude oil from Edmonton to Metro Vancouver for export to Asia, according to a recent poll.

A Mustel Group telephone poll of 502 B.C. residents conducted May 1 to 13 found 44.4 per cent support doubling the pipeline, 46.2 per cent oppose it and 9.5 per cent said they didn’t know.

The poll was conducted before two recent leaks, one near Hope on Thursday and another near Merritt on June 13, temporarily closed the pipeline.

This year’s results are essentially unchanged from March 2012, when a Mustel poll showed 43.7 per cent support and 44 per cent opposed.

Both polls, paid for by Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart, follow a survey in 2011 — also commissioned by the MP — showing 31 per cent in favour of twinning the pipeline, 35 per cent opposed and 11 per cent in favour of removing TransMountain altogether. The remainder, 22.8 per cent, said they didn’t know.

Although the results suggest opinion on the project has remained fairly constant, Kennedy said one change was an increase in those indicating they strongly opposed it. Roughly 30 per cent of respondents in the most recent poll said they strongly opposed the twinning compared to 25.7 per cent who said they strongly opposed the project in 2012.

“When somebody says they strongly oppose something, it means that they’ve thought about it and it’s something that really rubs them the wrong way,” he said. “It’s not something that’s common on a lot of issue polling that you do and you can see on this issue, we’re up over the 30 per cent mark.”

But the poll also showed an increase in those who strongly supported the project, up to 17.6 per cent in 2013 from 14.7 per cent in 2012.

The most recent poll showed 26.8 per cent of respondents somewhat supported the project, down from 29 per cent in 2012, while those who said they somewhat opposed the project also declined, from 18.3 per cent in 2012 to 16.1 per cent in 2013.

The city of Vancouver showed the lowest level of support, with 36.2 per cent strongly opposed, 15.1 per cent somewhat opposed, 27.6 per cent somewhat in support and 9.6 per cent strongly in support. The rest of Metro Vancouver was slightly more divided, with 28.6 per cent strongly opposed, 17.7 per cent somewhat opposed, 26.2 per cent somewhat supportive and 16.4 per cent strongly in support.

The Southern Interior showed the highest level of support, with 27.5 per cent strongly in favour of doubling the line, 25.5 per cent somewhat in favour, 12.3 per cent somewhat opposed and 26.5 per cent strongly opposed.

Income, gender and age also appeared to play a role.

Overall, men were more in favour of the expansion than women, at 52.2 per cent compared to 37.7 per cent.

Those with lower incomes tended to more strongly oppose the pipeline, with 49.4 per cent of those earning less than $65,000 a year opposing the project, compared to 42.5 per cent of those who earned more than $65,000 a year. Age did not appear to make a big difference in overall support for the project, with 18-34 year-olds 47 per cent opposed, compared to 49.6 per cent for 35-54 year-olds and 42.1 per cent for those over 55 years of age. However only 9.2 per cent of those 18-34 were strongly in favour of the project, compared to 16 per cent for 35-54 year-olds and 25.6 per cent for those 55 and up.

Kennedy is opposed to twinning the TransMountain line, which, he said is consistent with the views of the majority of his constituents. In 2007, more than 200,000 litres of heavy crude spilled into Burnaby’s Westridge neighbourhood and Burrard Inlet after an excavator accidentally punctured a pipeline taking oil from Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain terminal to its Westridge marine terminal.

Kinder Morgan is expected to make a formal application to the National Energy Board to twin the pipeline in November, Kennedy said.

The study’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.



With files from Postmedia News
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