Kinder Morgan to cut down trees at Westridge site on Burnaby Mountain for tunnel construction

The Council of Canadians Victoria chapter took part in a blockade of the entrance to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby on January 29.

Texas-based Kinder Morgan has been granted permission by the National Energy Board to begin 'pre-construction' work on a 2.6 kilometre-long tunnel through Burnaby Mountain (to connect the Burnaby Terminal and Westridge Marine Terminal) for its 890,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.

Burnaby Now reports, "Kinder Morgan filed a request with the NEB on January 25, asking if it could start construction on its Westridge portal and be granted relief from the pre-construction conditions. It gave the NEB until February 15 to decide on the matter. According to the February 15 decision, Kinder Morgan said it needs between four to six weeks to clear trees and grade the Westridge site, and that work needs to take place before migratory bird restrictions come into effect on March 26. If crews don’t meet that window, clearing the site would be delayed until August, according to Kinder Morgan. Other work at the Westridge site includes installing a retaining wall."

The Times Colonist adds, "The board also issued decisions over concerns filed by a resident and the City of Burnaby over the tunnelling of the pipeline through the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area. Documents from the board said it was satisfied by the mitigating efforts put forward by Trans Mountain to minimize disruption to residents, including a plan to monitor and report vibrations generated by the construction."

The National Observer notes, "The Burnaby Mountain area has been a particularly contested part of the pipeline expansion route, due to being an ecologically sensitive area, as well as its proximity to Simon Fraser University campus. In 2014, Burnaby Mountain was the site of large protests during which over 100 people were arrested."

Key dates to keep in mind:

  • February - tree-clearing and grading expected to begin at the Westridge terminal
  • February - the British Columbia government will release an intentions paper on its scientific study of bitumen transport in the province
  • March 10 - members of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation and allies will hold a mass demonstration on Burnaby Mountain
  • March 20-21 - the Council of Canadians is planning a convergence in Vancouver to oppose Kinder Morgan (details on this coming soon)
  • March 26 - migratory bird restrictions rule would stop tree-clearing at the Westridge site
  • late-April - a decision is expected on the pipeline's route through the Brunette River Conservation Area in Burnaby
  • spring - speculation that construction on the pipeline could begin at this time
  • 'later this year or early 2019' - the British Columbia government says new provincial oil-spill response rules could become law
  • December 2020 - Kinder Morgan says it expects this tar sands pipeline to be fully operational by this date

While the following schedule has now been delayed, the Vancouver Sun reported last summer on the key construction stages for the pipeline:

  • first week of September 2017 - land clearing along the route (notably in Langley, Surrey, Coquitlam and Burnaby)
  • first week of September 2017 - pipe shipments begin
  • mid-October 2017 - pipeline construction near Edmonton
  • March 2018 - boring a tunnel through Burnaby Mountain to start
  • Summer 2018 - stringing and welding of pipe in the Chilliwack area to start
  • October 2018 - pipeline construction is to start in the Kamloops area

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline since August 2011 by participating in marches and civil disobedience actions, supporting chapter activism, circulating petitions and more.