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WIN! Chilliwack city council rejects Kinder Morgan ‘community benefits’ deal

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The Chilliwack chapter used social media and other means to help spread the word in advance of yesterday’s vote.

The Council of Canadians Chilliwack chapter is celebrating a win with the WaterWealth Project and other allies after Chilliwack city council rejected an $800,000 offer from Texas-based energy giant Kinder Morgan should its 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline be approved by the National Energy Board (NEB).

Yesterday, the chapter helped to encourage local residents to make calls and send emails to the mayor and their city councillor to tell them that voting to “indicate a willingness to receive community funding if the pipeline project receives approval from the National Energy Board” (as proponents had put it) was the wrong thing to do.

Kinder Morgan was offering to pay most of the costs for a $1 million pedestrian bridge in the city as part of their “Community Benefits Program”. The company said it was “an acknowledgement and thanks in advance for people’s patience as some construction disruption will occur should the pipeline receive approval”. But residents argued that it could be seen as a “bribe” and that it was “devoid of any sense of ethics and proper procedure” given the city is a registered commenter at the NEB review of the pipeline and is a member of the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) which is an intervenor in the hearings.

At the city council meeting, Councillor Jason Lum introduced the motion to defer the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Kinder Morgan. He said, “The FVRD has a number of concerns. Making the decision today feels a little like putting the cart before the horse.” And given the route of the pipeline has not been entirely finalized, Lum noted, “Part of the MOU is to offset some of the inconvenience and if we don’t know where the route is going to be than it is hard to calculate where the inconvenience is going to be. I’m certainly not willing to vote in favour of this until I’m satisfied and the public is satisfied.”

After the vote, Chilliwack chapter activists Wendy Major and Suzy Coulter wrote, “Amazing results! They decided they would not support this motion for an agreement with Kinder Morgan for now. It must have been the letters to the mayor and councillors.”

Kinder Morgan wants to increase the capacity of the Alberta to British Columbia pipeline from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. The project would produce an estimated 270 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over a 35-year period. The Chilliwack Times adds, “The Trans Mountain pipeline runs diagonally across the city of Chilliwack from Popkum, running under agricultural land, Kinkora Golf Course, adjacent to residential areas and under First Nations land, two school properties and underneath the Vedder River and the Peach Ponds just east of the rail bridge.”

In terms of a timeline, the National Energy Board’s hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline are expected to conclude this October, it is believed that the (next) federal cabinet will make its decision by April 2016, and if approved the pipeline is scheduled to be operational by November 2017.

For more on our campaign to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, please click here.

Further reading
Chilliwack chapter helps mobilize against ‘community benefits’ deal with Kinder Morgan (May 2015 blog)