Burnaby loses its legal fight against Kinder Morgan for now

NEB orders City of Burnaby to no longer impede Kinder Morgan's pipeline test drilling; Mayor of Burnaby vows to take this battle to federal court.

Kinder Morgan Burnaby Westridge Terminal - Mychaylo Prystupa

In a sea-saw legal conflict over the future of a multi-billion-dollar oil sands pipeline, the National Energy Board said it has ruled against the City of Burnaby in its attempts to block Kinder Morgan from doing its test pipeline drilling on Burnaby Mountain. 

City staff have been ordered to no longer get in the way of the Texas-giant's efforts to access Burnaby Mountain's Conservation forest area.

The company will be able to legally proceed with its geo-technical work to explore the feasibility of an underground tunnel for its $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

“The order also requires Trans Mountain to provide the City of Burnaby with 48 hours written notice before entering Burnaby Mountain to carry out the surveys and studies.”

“Furthermore, Trans Mountain must do as little damage as possible and remediate any damage it does cause, to the extent possible,” states the board’s press release Thursday afternoon. 

Trans Mountain spokesperson Lizette Parsons Bell said the company was happy with the ruling.

“We’re pleased with the NEB’s ruling and the Order issued to the City of Burnaby," she said. "While our preference is to work cooperatively with the City, at the end of the day our goal is to complete the studies needed for the proposed expansion and we’ll be reviewing our options for continuing the work.”  

Legal battle not over

The Mayor's office said Burnaby will now carry this fight to a federal court.

Likewise, a citizens' group vowed to continue to “peacefully impede” the company’s drilling work with “non-violent direct actions.” 

“Beyond Kinder Morgan, our fight is with the federal government and our rights under the Constitution. That's why this action is so important. Local people cannot be denied control over their environment," said BROKE spokesperson, Alan Dutton in a statement.

"We are here to support both the City of Burnaby and the Tsleil Waututh people,” he added.

The battle heated up in early September when the City of Burnaby began a series of legal manoeuvres to frustrate the company from continuing its drill work.  

And recently, the NEB sided with the city, stating that Kinder Morgan had to come back with a more sophisticated "constitutional" argument to try and prohibit the city from interfering.

At issue, said Burnaby's lawyer earlier this month: what to do when a municipal bylaw (to protect a Conservation Park) is in conflict with a federal legal decision (to permit the pipeline work).

Today's ruling suggests the board believes that federal laws should rule the day.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and the NDP Member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart have repeatedly said they are dead set against the oil pipeline project.  

Corrigan is not a fan of allowing the expanded pipeline to carry a much larger volume of explosive dilbit through a densely populated city.  The original Trans Mountain pipeline was built in the 1960s.

Likewise, Stewart has said recently that citizen complaints about the pipeline is the number one reason why people call his office.

Kinder Morgan has been asked to comment on this story.  We will update it when they do.

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