The National Energy Board (NEB) is permitting Kinder Morgan to skip the City of Burnaby’s bylaws that act as obstacles for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
On Thursday, the federal agency said its answer to the constitutional question sides with Kinder Morgan, which filed notices with the NEB in late-October as it believed permit delays with the municipal government were delaying the construction timeline.
“The sections of the bylaws in question required Trans Mountain to obtain preliminary plan approvals and tree cutting permits for project-related work at Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Terminal, Westridge Marine Terminal, and at a nearby temporary infrastructure site,” reads the decision.
“Trans Mountain’s motion raised constitutional questions related to the applicability and operability of these Burnaby bylaws in relation to the project.”
This effectively allows Kinder Morgan to commence work at its Westridge Marine Terminal and Burnaby Terminal, but this is subject to any other permits or authorizations that may be required.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who is opposed to the pipeline, said the decision amounted to “an abuse of federal powers”.
“City staff are shocked by the NEB’s decision, as City staff have been reviewing Kinder Morgan’s construction applications in good faith, focusing both on citizen safety and mitigation of environmental damage,” said Corrigan in a statement.
“The application process is the same one that hundreds of companies are required to engage in with Burnaby every year, but the National Energy Board has chosen to exempt Kinder Morgan from this very important requirement, in spite of the potential environmental, social and financial consequences.”
Then early this year, the previous provincial government led by the BC Liberals granted Trans Mountain an environmental assessment approval, with conditions. The new BC NDP government is against the project.
The 987-km-long Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby is estimated to cost $7.4 billion. When complete in late-2019, it will triple the capacity of the existing pipeline, allowing it to handle 890,000 barrels of oil per day. Tanker traffic in Vancouver harbour is expected to increase from five to 34 vessels per month as a result.