Richmond News – A mere two months after the city learned of losing its battle with one fuel pipeline project, it’s preparing to take up arms against another.
On Monday, during a general purposes council meeting, Mayor Malcolm Brodie and city councillors rejected a staff recommendation that it be an arms-length bystander for an upcoming National Energy Board (NEB) review of the proposed doubling of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, to be built by Kinder Morgan, from Edmonton, Alta, to a planned expanded fuel terminal in Burnaby.
A staff memo to council suggested the city apply for “commenter” status, meaning it could merely comment on the process at public hearings and such comments would not be considered sworn evidence.
Instead, council decided the city should take a more proactive approach and apply for “intervenor” status, meaning it has the right to review all documents filed during the review, present its own written evidence, cross-examine others and present a final argument.
Staff were directed by the mayor to draft an intervenor application for approval at next week’s city council meeting. The application deadline is Feb. 12.
According to the NEB, an intervenor must be directly affected by the project. NEB listed 12 issues that it considers for a person or entity to be considered directly affected by the project, including “contingency planning for spills, accidents or malfunctions.” As the staff report notes, while the project’s footprint is not in Richmond, it may impact the city’s shoreline.
The current proposal runs through Burnaby and crosses the Fraser River upstream at an undetermined location in the Lower Mainland.
Vancouver and Burnaby have indicated they will also apply for intervenor status, as will Metro Vancouver. Staff argued it would be sufficient for Richmond to work through the regional body, but councillors disagreed.
Coun. Linda Barnes expressed concerns over the potential of up to 500 staff hours being committed to the process as an intervenor.
Also, since the NEB would need to make a new application to re-route the pipeline (potentially to Richmond) Barnes thought it would be sufficient to only apply as an intervenor should the pipeline’s footprint reach Richmond.
Those concerns were unanimously laid to rest in favour of the bigger picture.
“You can see how we could be left out in the cold,” said Brodie.
Coun. Harold Steves added, “Don’t expect (Vancouver) to be at the table by our side. We will be all by ourselves (if we don’t apply as intervenors.) It’s a hop, skip and a jump to come to Richmond.”
Steves also noted the City of Vancouver would be happy to see the pipeline end up in Richmond. He also noted the empty federally-owned land once occupied by Fraser Wharves is a wild-card.
To that, Brodie added, “If anyone suggests a route to the south of the Fraser, I want to be at that table. I want to kill that right away.”
The review process goes to public hearings in late 2014 and includes an environmental and socio-economic assessment. It should be completed