VANCOUVER — The president of a company planning a controversial pipeline expansion in Western Canada says the debate about Trans Mountain is over and it's time to get on with construction.
Ian Anderson, head of Kinder Morgan Canada, said Thursday the $7.4-billion project has undergone the most rigorous environmental review process in the country's history.
"The time for seeking more opinions on whether we should build this project has passed," Anderson told a gathering of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade during its annual energy forum.
"Now is the time to show Canadians and the world that we have had the healthy debate, that we have had a rigorous review, and we will get on to build the project."
The proposal involves doubling of a pre-existing pipeline, which would triple its carrying capacity and result in an estimated seven-fold increase in tanker traffic through the Lower Mainland's Burrard Inlet. It has prompted fierce opposition from environmentalists, First Nations, and the B.C. New Democrat government, all of whom are fighting the project in federal court.
Anderson said the City of Burnaby, where the pipeline terminus is located, was taking months to issue permits, dragging its feet in a process that should only last weeks.
"We will meet all of the local permitting requirements, all of the local interests. We will do all of that," Anderson said about Burnaby's opposition to Trans Mountain. "But at the end of the day, they can't prevent us from doing our work."
The city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley also addressed the energy forum on her latest stop on a pro-pipeline tour across Canada touting the importance of the energy industry to the overall economy.
"There is not a school, there is not a hospital, there is not a bus, a road, a bike lane or a port that doesn't owe something to the strong energy industry in the province of Alberta," she said.
Notley later told reporters she appreciated the federal government's stance, expressed by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr on Wednesday, that the federal energy regulator should have the authority to settle permit conflicts between the pipeline builder and provincial and local authorities.
"We know that a trans-provincial pipeline like this, going to a port that serves the whole country, is a matter of national interest," Notley said. "We just can't spend the next 10 years bickering over this."
Carr, who also spoke at the forum on Thursday, said he appealed to the National Energy Board to set up a way to resolve permit conflicts.
"We're not interesting in interfering with how the National Energy Board does it's business. We're just making a point in this intervention that we see a value in a standing panel that can ensure that a very important project doesn't suffer unusual or unnecessary delay."
More than 100 protesters gathered in the rain outside the Fairmont Waterfront in downtown Vancouver to protest Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain proposal, some holding umbrellas emblazoned with the words "No KM" in tape.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, head of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said in a statement that while politicians try to muster support for the project First Nations are planning costly delays that will force the expansion to be cancelled.
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