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Cheerful corporate insiders ignore vehement outsiders at Kinder Morgan public meeting

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Sitting to Gosavi's right was Vancouver resident Joan Janzen.

"We came with the hopes of asking questions that aren't answered directly in the presentation," Janzen said.

Janzen and Gosavi are members of Communities Against Pipelines, which Janzen describes as a "neighbourhood effort" by Vancouver residents opposed to the new pipeline. Their first meeting was in June, she said.

Fellow group member Mike Gillan sat across from Janzen and Gosavi. All three said they had come expecting a public forum about Kinder Morgan's proposal to build a second pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby that would transport Alberta oil sands bitumen overseas through Vancouver Harbour and the Burrard Inlet.

People read information about Kinder Morgan at a public information session on Nov 13 in East Vancouver. Photo by Beth Hong.

"They had this huge presentation, an audiovisual display and printed words, but they just have a pittance, just one page about the emergency response," Gosavi added. "I want to know more of what they have for emergency response. There are a couple of previous leakages, right?"

"Lots, yeah." Gillan said.

"They have not been addressed, as yet. And what if? What are their plans? Like there is a major disaster?" Gosavi asked.

BC NDP waiting for Trans Mountain NEB application before passing judgment: Simpson

Shane Simpson, NDP MLA for Vancouver-Hastings, said that his constituents had also expressed frustration about the format of the information sessions.

"They were hoping it would be a meeting...[that] there would be an opportunity to hear from people, from Kinder Morgan about what the scope of this might look like, the opportunity to ask questions in more of a meeting kind of venue," he said.

"That's not going to occur, at least this evening, but I would hope that Kinder Morgan will in fact have some kind of public meeting and invite people to come and have a conversation where people can hear each other and how they feel about this project."

Simpson compared the Kinder Morgan project to the other major proposed pipeline project currently under NEB review, the Enbridge Northern Gateway.

"There are a number of aspects of this project that are similar to Enbridge, we have some concern about that. But what we're really waiting for is what the actual application looks like," he said.

"Clearly they're going to have to address issues of tanker traffic and the potential impact on the coast they're going to have, and to address First Nations issues. They're going to have to address other significant environmental issues. And there's some expectation that they'll explain the benefits to British Columbians here," he continued.

"At this point we don't have answers to any of those questions so we'll be looking to see how Kinder Morgan responds to those questions and move from there."

Audio visuals and information about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Photo by Beth Hong.

Too early to pass judgements, say North Vancouver residents

Standing nearby the audiovisual display of the proposed pipeline and a route map were North Vancouver residents Ken Gill and Gordon Dunnet. Gill, 69 and retired, drove down from his home in Deep Cove located near the Burrard Inlet. He had come at Dunnet's invitation.

"We're just concerned about the increase in tanker traffic," Gill said. "Big vessels-- there's noise and pollution and increased possibility of an oil spill which would be catastrophic in such a small area."

Dunnet, 65, shared Gill's concern about tanker traffic. He said he asked the representatives from Port Metro Vancouver at the information session about his concerns.

"It's a start, anyway," he said about whether he was satisfied with the answer.

"I think it's just preliminary information. there isn't a huge amount of detail right now but obviously it's going to have a big impact," Gill added.

"It seems like a reasonably transparent process so far, but it's very much the beginning of the process, so we'll see what unfolds. This is an initial public relations exercise, isn't it?"

Meanwhile, cheerful Trans Mountain employees walked around the room, answering questions and conversing with people. Kinder Morgan staff walked around the room, taking photos with their cameras and shooting video of people talking to Trans Mountain staff.

The Trans Mountain pipeline is a 1,150 km pipeline that runs from Edmonton through terminals and refineries in the central British Columbia region, the Greater Vancouver area (ending at the Westridge Marine terminal in Burnaby), and Washington state. The current pipeline transports 300,000 barrels per day of mixture of crude oil, refined and semi-refined products. The proposed pipeline, if approved, would carry heavy crude oil, or bitumen, pumped from Alberta tar sands.

If approved, the project would result in 750,000 barrels per day of oil flowing between Alberta and BC, and a five-fold increase tanker traffic in Vancouver's harbours from five to twenty-five tankers a month.

The next Kinder Morgan public information session in Vancouver will take place Thursday Nov 15 at Harbour Centre, Segal Hall (515 West Hastings Street) between 5pm to 8pm. All upcoming dates and locations for public information sessions can be found at the Trans Mountain site.

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