Town hall meeting turns into a call for action

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Close to 200 people packed a Burnaby elementary school gym Wednesday night for a meeting turned rallying cry against the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

The City of Burnaby, which on April 2 was granted official intervenor status for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, hosted the first of two town hall meetings at Forest Grove Elementary school on

Burnaby Mountain – an area set to be directly impacted by the proposed expansion.

Mayor Derek Corrigan, several Burnaby councillors and city staff were on hand to express their opposition to the pipeline and rally citizens to take action against it.

Corrigan showed graphics and photos of previous oil spills in the United States and Canada, including the 2007 Kinder Morgan spill in Burnaby that led to 250 residents being evacuated.

“I know there has been a lot of Kinder Morgan talk about operating pipelines safely for 60 years,” he said. “These oil spills happen frequently all over the world.”

Members of the Burnaby RCMP, including Chief Superintendent Dave Critchley, and fire department representatives were also present as a show of support for the city’s stand, but they referred media questions to city representatives.

In its application to the NEB, Kinder Morgan said it will turn to Burnaby’s first-responders in the event of a spill.

Community planner Zera Te cited fire and rescue concerns as one of the key reasons the city is opposing the pipeline.

“I have a first-hand account from the Burnaby fire department that if there was a major incident at the Burnaby Mountain terminal that it would deplete the entire city’s resources to respond to that fire and that any other emergency throughout the city, they would be unable to attend to it,” said Te.

Longtime Burnaby resident Aage Karlsen, a former general-cargo seaman, was at the meeting to show his support for the city’s stand against the pipeline but was more concerned about the proposed increase in tankers in Burrard Inlet.

“I think there should be a law against sending a big tanker right through the heart of a city,” he said.

”It’s insane.”

City lawyer Greg McDade said citizens may not get the chance to hear Kinder Morgan’s exact tanker and pipeline plans or have their objections heard because there are no public hearings scheduled.

According to McDade, the National Energy Board’s hearing order, which announces the process for review of the project – released April 2 – exposed that there will be no real public hearings before the NEB makes its decision.

Intervenors will only be able to submit written questions and objections, starting May 2.

The hearing order states the board will release draft conditions for comment on Dec 2.

“The board is going to be preparing conditions, without ever having heard a word from the public, other than written questions,” Corrigan said.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline hearings, by comparison, had 90 days of public hearings.

“The only times the National Energy Board has ever turned projects down has been when there have been public hearings,” McDade added.

McDade called on the audience to take action.

“What we really need to do is let the government know that no public hearings is not an acceptable approach,” he said.

Corrigan echoed that sentiment, to a standing ovation from the crowd.

“I don’t want to pretend to you the game isn’t fixed. I know the game is fixed,” he said.

“We are up against it, but … things start with a small group of people.”

The meeting ended with citizens having the opportunity to ask questions, but most of the 20-odd people who took to the mike did so to voice support for the city’s stand or to suggest further citizen action.

Pat Howard, from the Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion, called on citizens to attend a march and protest against the pipeline scheduled for Burnaby this Saturday.

“I just hope that people realize that they are not alone, that there are a lot of people concerned,” she said.

The next city hosted public meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 15, at Westridge Elementary School.

According to Corrigan, the city’s campaign against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline is being funded with city casino revenue.

© Burnaby Now