B.C. cities demand greater oil pipeline scrutiny, safety

Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning draws resolutions from Burnaby, Vancouver and Victoria at UBCM convention

Municipal mayors and councillors voting on proposed resolutions Friday morning at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler.

Civic leaders worried about the threat of an oil spill disaster from Kinder Morgan’s planned Trans Mountain pipeline twinning pushed through a series of emergency resolutions Friday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

A Burnaby resolution called on the federal government to restore full public hearings leading up to National Energy Board decisions.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the current revised system is unfair because it denies stakeholders concerned about the Kinder Morgan project the same ability to give oral evidence and cross-examine witnesses that was available in the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings.

A second resolution from Victoria demands the province conduct its own environmental assessment of the Trans Mountain project in light of inadequate written responses from the company to information requests under the NEB process.

A Vancouver resolution that also passed keyed on concerns that diluted bitumen will sink in water and prove nearly impossible to clean up whether it’s spilled at sea or into a creek or river.

It urged the NEB to require site-specific plans to deal with sunken oil and that the province fully assess the plans and capability to respond to submerged bitumen.

“Bitumen does not float on the surface, it sinks to the bottom,” said Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal, refuting industry claims the heavy oil will float.

“The way to solve this is to have the oil refined in Alberta,” said Nelson Coun. Robin Cherbo. “Bitumen should not be sent through a pipeline.”

North Cowichan Coun. Al Siebring argued pipelines aren’t under municipal jurisdiction and such resolutions “dilute the credibility” of UBCM on more valid topics.

Earlier in the week, UBCM delegates narrowly defeated another Burnaby resolution calling for outright opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Several speakers feared denial of the project would result in more oil carried by rail at greater risk.

The City of Burnaby and Kinder Morgan continue to spar before the NEB as to whether pipeline survey crews can conduct intrusive study work on Burnaby Mountain after a preliminary ruling that the company cannot violate Burnaby bylaws.

Other resolutions passed Friday by UBCM included:

– A call from Kamloops to give municipal bylaw enforcement officers the power to break into vehicles and enter other non-residential premises to rescue animals in critical distress. City staff currently must call RCMP or SPCA officers if they find dogs about to perish in a parked car.

– A request that Telus priorize telephone landline repairs in rural areas, where residents may not have cellphone coverage and sometimes face a wait of weeks without 911 access if service fails.

– A resolution urging Ottawa to immediately restrict old rail tanker cars slated for a three-year phase out to carrying only non-volatile liquids.

– A resolution opposing provincial grants to municipalities with no residents, such as the new Jumbo Glacier Resort, which Invermere’s mayor said is the recipient of “ridiculous” government subsidies.

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