After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!
MP Kennedy Stewart wants Burnaby to have its say on Kinder Morgan pipeline
MP warns that Kinder Morgan will be able to tear down houses once granted right of way to BC properties. Says NEB issued "snap call" for public participation.
Burnaby MP Kennedy Stewart says he has been inundated with phone calls and citizens walking into his office with concerns and questions about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, and how to participate in the project’s federal hearings.
“On Monday, we had over 400 calls,” said Stewart on Wednesday.
The New Democrat politician says the federal government has “intentionally” done a poor job at communicating how citizens can participate in upcoming National Energy Board hearings.
So the Member of Parliament set up his own website – LetBCdecide.ca – to fill in the information gap. He says he has had more than 5,000 hits in the last few weeks, including from B.C. citizens far outside his riding.
A spokesperson for the NEB denies it is making it difficult for anyone to apply, and said the board wants to hear from anyone who is directly affected by the pipeline, with comments for or against it.
Citizens have until Feb. 12 to apply online to do this. Kinder Morgan will receive a copy of all applications to participate and may argue to have any person or group removed.
If approved, the $5.4 billion pipeline would pump 890,000 barrels of explosive and toxic bitumen through densely populated areas, and ecologically sensitive wilderness.
“There’s a real hunger for information on this issue, and a hunger for ‘how to do I participate?’ -- and really, the National Energy Board is simply failing [to help] residents,” said Stewart.
Retired industrial power teacher John Clarke took up Stewart’s offer of assistance with the online forms. He lives 200 metres from Kinder Morgan’s existing oil tanks in Burnaby -- tanks that may be tripled or quadrupled in size, if the project goes forward.
“With that amount of petroleum stored on the side of Burnaby Mountain, and if we get a seismic event, a terrorist attack, or some human error that causes an explosion, there’s going to be a ‘river of fire’ down through the residential areas.”
In its fiery path, he estimates, would potentially be elementary schools, the Lougheed Highway, and thousands of homes. Clarke says he had to find elevation maps on his own to reach his conclusion. He claims he was not able to straight answers regarding this from Kinder Morgan at the company’s recent public meetings.
Moksha yoga-studio business owner Eric Mathias also turned up Wednesday at Stewart’s office. He worries about the economic impact of an oil spill.
He points to the 2010 Enbridge pipeline disaster, which spilled 3.3 million litres of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.
“In Kalamazoo, this really had the effect of devastating local businesses. North Burnaby is really turning into something incredible – and an oil spill would be devastating for this,” said Mathias Wednesday.
Stewart will also be hosting a community meeting about the Kinder Morgan project, Saturday, Jan.25, from 3pm – 5pm, at the Confederation Community Centre, 4585 Albert Street in Burnaby.