Vancouver mayor calls for full cross-examination of witnesses at Kinder Morgan hearings

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Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson wants everyone at the hearing into the proposed twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline subject to questioning.

The controversial proposal to build a second Trans Mountain Pipeline to Burnaby is headed for National Energy Board hearings, and Robertson believes all witnesses should be subject to cross-examination.

“Why is it that residents in B.C.’s north had the opportunity to take part in the Northern Gateway hearings, but when it comes to a pipeline in our own backyard, the Lower Mainland is shut out?” asked the mayor.

“It is these decisions by the NEB to sideline public input that foster distrust and undercut the entire review process.”

Robertson will be introducing a motion on notice at this week’s city council meeting call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal government to guarantee open public hearings and cross-examination of witnesses at the NEB review.

“The National Energy Board’s review process must guarantee a thorough, inclusive, and open hearing of input from all stakeholders,” Robertson said in a statement.

“It’s clear to me that the current process will preclude important evidence from being examined and prevent far too many voices from exercising their right to be heard.”

Earlier, the city sent a letter of support to intervener Robyn Allan, who has asked that the hearing order include oral cross-examination of all witnesses on their evidence by interveners, the NEB, and Trans Mountain.

The ability to cross-examine all witnesses was part of the Northern Gateway review process, but is not part of the Trans Mountain Pipeline review.

“Vancouver has substantial concerns to express about the enormous risks posed to our local economy and environment by a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic in and around Vancouver’s harbour,” said Robertson.

Two pipeline proposals — the Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain projects — have polarized many in B.C. who weigh economic benefits against environmental risks.

Many, including Premier Christy Clark, have expressed concern that B.C. is accepting much of the environmental risk while most of the jobs and economic benefit will go to Alberta’s oilsands.

First Nations also play a key role in the pipeline fight, with potential court challenges stacking up against the promise of potential jobs and royalties.

The mayor’s motion will be introduced Tuesday, then debated at the following council meeting on May 13.