Many in B.C. would refuse to buy home near oil pipeline: poll

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OTTAWA — Most British Columbians say they’d be concerned about buying a home near an oil pipeline, according to a new poll.

And a sizable minority — 43 per cent — said they wouldn’t even consider such a purchase due to those concerns, according to the Angus Reid online survey commissioned by New Democratic Party MP Kennedy Stewart.

The MP for Burnaby-Douglas has been a critic of Kinder Morgan’s plans to twin its existing pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby.

“The reason I commissioned this poll is that I have been speaking with homeowners living along the proposed route, not the existing right of way, who cannot sell their homes,” Stewart told The Vancouver Sun. “They are really worried their property values have significantly fallen and will stay low.”

The poll of 803 adults found that only 10 per cent said a pipeline would have “no effect” on their decision to buy a property within 500 metres of a pipeline.

Another 15 per cent said they would have some concerns but it wouldn’t be a “big factor,” while 25 per cent said their concerns would be an “important factor” on whether to make the purchase.

The largest portion, 43 per cent, agreed with the statement: “I have strong concerns about the pipeline that would keep me from even considering buying a home or property.”

The remaining respondents didn’t know.

In Greater Vancouver, only seven per cent said it would have no effect, 15 said it would have some effect but wouldn’t be a major factor, 23 per cent said it would be an important factor, and 45 per cent said it would rule out the possibility of buying the property.

The poll has an error margin of 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, according to the polling firm.

Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Lisa Clement noted in an email that “hundreds if not thousands” of people have bought homes near the existing pipeline for 60 years.

“That said, we know that people do have concerns about land devaluation, we’ve heard that, too. It is important to remember that more than 75 per cent of the pipeline will follow the existing right-of way where the pipeline has been in place for 60 years and most of the properties have been bought/sold over the years with the easement disclosure.

“More than 15 per cent of the proposed expanded pipeline will follow utility corridors or other infrastructure.”

She noted that the National Energy Board Act requires companies to compensate landowners for new easement, or right-of-way, rights, and pay for damages and inconvenience associated with new pipelines.

A spokesman for Enbridge, the company proposing the North Gateway pipeline, said they are very few houses near its right-of-way. “This issue was an important consideration when planning our route,” Ivan Giesbrecht said.

Stewart said Kinder Morgan is using new routes in a number of densely-populated urban areas.

“Most of what is being proposed for Burnaby is for land that does not fall along the current right of way. Even at ‘mile zero’ near the Westridge Marine Terminal, the proposed new pipeline does not fall within the existing right of way. This is the case for Coquitlam, Langley and many other Lower Mainland municipalities.”

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