The City of Burnaby’s anti-pipeline resolution was narrowly defeated at the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual conference on Thursday morning.
Burnaby put forward a comprehensive pipeline and energy transport plan, calling on the UBCM to oppose the Kinder Morgan expansion project, but the resolution was defeated 50.7 per cent to 49.3 per cent.
The vote took place Thursday morning at the conference in Whistler. Mayor Derek Corrigan said it was disappointing but not a “decisive defeat.”
“It was very, very close,” he said on the phone from Whistler. “I don’t think anyone can take great pride in having defeated it.”
According to Corrigan, the resolution was rejected thanks to an urban-rural divide, in which municipalities like Burnaby are out-numbered two-to-one. Corrigan said rural politicians were worried that if they opposed the pipeline, they would get rail cars carrying oil coming through their communities as a result.
“They didn’t want that, so it was a very jealous kind of response,” he said.
Corrigan also said Kinder Morgan representatives were lobbying at the UBCM, hosting parties and buying drinks, trying to persuade the votes to go their way.
Kinder Morgan wants to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs oil from Alberta to Burnaby. The project, now under review by the National Energy Board, would mean expanding the Burnaby Mountain tank farm, building a new pipeline in the city and increasing tanker traffic at the Westridge Marine Terminal, where tankers fill up with crude in the Burrard Inlet.
Burnaby’s resolution characterized the expansion as a project rife with risk and called on the UBCM to oppose the project. The second main point in the resolution called on the provincial and federal governments to consult with local governments, First Nations and the public to come up with a comprehensive pipeline and energy transport plan that includes funding for emergency response.
The defeat marks the second recent stumbling block Burnaby has hit in its campaign to stop the multi-billion-dollar expansion. Just last week, the B.C. Supreme Court rejected Burnaby’s bid for an injunction to stop Kinder Morgan’s survey work in the Burnaby Mountain conservation area, a city-owned park. Kinder Morgan, meanwhile, is waiting on the National Energy Board for its request for a Section 73 order that would force to city to allow the company back on the mountain.
The UBCM conference runs until Friday. Burnaby, Vancouver and Victoria all submitted additional emergency resolutions related to the Kinder Morgan expansion, which are scheduled for debate after NOW deadlines.
When contacted for comment, Kinder Morgan sent an emailed statement from Lizette Parson Bell, the lead for stakeholder engagement with the Trans Mountain expansion project.
“We are pleased with the results of the resolution debated today at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference. For over 60 years we have had a presence in more than 15 communities in British Columbia. Over the last two years, we have been meeting with the communities along our proposed pipeline right-of-way and we, including our president Ian Anderson, were in attendance at UBCM to continue those discussions and answer questions from delegates,” she wrote. “Our approach, like many organizations in attendance at UBCM, is to have one-on-one conversations about local opportunities and community benefits. We are always seeking ways to listen and be responsive to community interest, comments and concerns.”