07/25/2012 02:15 EDT | Updated 09/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Pipeline opponents pack Kitsilano meeting

It was standing room only as more than 300 people packed a community hall on Tuesday night in Premier Christy Clark's Vancouver Point Grey riding to voice their concerns over Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline expansion.

Kinder Morgan has said it wants to twin its existing Trans Mountain Pipeline that carries various oil products from Alberta to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, where they are loaded onto tankers in Vancouver Harbour.

The proposed $5-billion expansion project would increase the 1,150-kilometre pipeline's capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 850,000 barrels per day, requiring an increase in the size and number of tankers passing through Vancouver Harbour.

That prospect has mobilized opponents concerned about the increased possibility of environmental disaster from an oil spill on land or in the sea.

Western Canada Wilderness Committee organizer Ben West said the turnout at Tuesday night's meeting speaks for itself.

"People are becoming aware there's this increased tanker traffic and the threats that come with that."

Point Grey resident Doug Hawrish was one of many people at the meeting who echoed those concerns.

"All I know about tanker traffic is eventually there is an oil spill, and I'm concerned about that," he said.

Concerns about Northern Gateway

Hawrish said it's difficult for him to trust pipeline companies like Kinder Morgan, or Enbridge, which has just offered to make $500-million worth of design changes to its proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline in northern B.C. in the face of mounting opposition.

"Enbridge has said they're going to be put in new safety measures. Why weren't they going to put those in the first place?" said Hawrish.

Kitsilano resident Richard Dixon says he uses the beach every day and he's worried the environmental process is being influenced by the huge amount of money involved.

"The beach is important to me. Part of my concerns is having the environmental process short-circuited."

Kinder Morgan has said it is committed to spending up to two years consulting with communities along the route, including First Nations and environmental organizations, starting this summer.

But Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has already stated he plans to oppose any expansion of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Further meetings have been organized by opponents along the pipeline and tanker routes throughout the summer in Burnaby, North Vancouver, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.