NEB says no to extending application period for pipeline hearing

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The National Energy Board has decided not to extend the application period for people hoping to participate in the hearings for Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion.

The decision was revealed Wednesday morning, in a letter sent to Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart, who had raised questions about how people can properly participate in the public process when it’s unclear which route the pipeline will take.

“The board has set deadlines to ensure a fair and efficient process and is not persuaded, based on the request, to grant the broad extension to the application to participate sought by Mr. Stewart,” the National Energy Board letter states. “For the above reasons, the request is denied.”

Stewart, however, said the board was mistaken.

“The NEB has got this wrong. I don’t think there was adequate notification. There’s a lot of confusion around this location of the pipeline routes,” Stewart said in a call from Ottawa. “I’m concerned about a lot of communities along the route. … There’s no appeal of this ruling, so we’ll just have to abide by it.”

As previously reported in the NOW, some Burnaby residents were informed, in writing, that Kinder Morgan now prefers the alternate pipeline route in the south of the city, instead of the selected study corridor that runs down Lougheed Highway.

The NEB noted that Trans Mountain “undertook extensive and diligent” steps to notify potentially affected landowners, stakeholders and aboriginal communities on both the selected route and the alternate.

While Stewart argued that Kinder Morgan’s application was incomplete, and should therefore be sent back to the drawing board, the NEB stated the company notified “all properties” on the alternative routes, which have not changed.

The senior project manager overseeing the pipeline extension plan thought the NEB’s decision was fair.

“The decision not to extend the deadline was made at the discretion of the NEB. Trans Mountain supports a fair, reasonable and efficient review process for our proposed project and believes that anyone who, in the NEB’s opinion, is directly affected should have the right to participate,” said Greg Toth in an emailed statement. “That said, our filing has been public since Dec. 16, and the process to apply to intervene was well publicized and open.”
One thing the board didn’t mention was Kinder Morgan was missing some maps from the initial, electronic version of the application filed with the NEB. Among those maps was an image of the preferred pipeline route and the alternative in Burnaby.

According to the company the maps were not uploaded online because of a technical problem, but “exact duplicates” were included in a different section of the 15,000-page application.

Stewart estimated his constituency office helped about 1,000 people apply to participate in the hearing, many from Burnaby, but some from other areas of the province. In all, more than 2,000 people have applied as either intervenors or commentators.

“We’re moving to the next phase of the project, which is to support people as intervenors,” he said.

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