The City of Vancouver is ramping up efforts to oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion from Alberta to the Burnaby end of Vancouver Harbour.
The company plans to twin its current crude oil pipeline in a $5-billion project that could see tanker traffic in the harbour increase fivefold, and that has some local politicians concerned about the increased possibility of environmental disaster.
The Vancouver Park Board will be voting on a motion next week to formally oppose the project.
"If there were to be an oil spill, we would have severe damage to all these spaces,” said Park Board Commissioner Niki Sharma. “Who knows how many decades it could take to clean something like that up.”
Over the weekend, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson attended Earth Day celebrations, where he repeated his opposition to the pipeline expansion.
Coun. Andrea Reimer, also part of the Vision Vancouver slate, said a separate motion to formally oppose the pipeline expansion plan will be voted on next Tuesday.
"We bear a ton of risk as a city, not just environmental risk, but also economic risk,” said Reimer. “Our economy depends on a beautiful shoreline — and also our international reputation."
City staff will be asked to come up with a bylaw that would hold pipeline operators and oil tanker owners legally and financially responsible to the city and local industries in case of an oil spill.
"We would make sure that money either was available through an insurer or in the bank so when that worst-case scenario oil spill happens we can make sure Vancouver isn't financially devastated," Reimer said.
Last week, Kinder Morgan said selling the benefits of the project in B.C. could require some work.
"Part of that heavy lifting is going to be meeting with all parties that are interested, including the residents and the politicians in Vancouver and Burnaby,” Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said in an interview with CBC’s B.C. Almanac.
Last week, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake, while not saying the government would oppose the pipeline expansion, did say Kinder Morgan will have to reassure the public both that the pipeline would be safe and that economic benefits would flow to B.C. residents from the project.