VICTORIA, BC – The mayors of Victoria, Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Squamish, Bowen Island, Sooke and Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip Nation have joined together to ask the federal government not to approve the Kinder Morgan pipeline in December. Today at 11:45am in the lobby of the Victoria Conference Centre (Douglas St entrance) the mayors and their allies held a press conference.
The mayors believe that the National Energy Board (NEB) review and subsequent Ministerial Panel process have both been fundamentally flawed, and are calling for the project to be put on hold until an adequate assessment has been completed.
The Ministerial Panel appointed by the federal government to gather additional input on the Kinder Morgan project did not address the gaps in the previous NEB review, and was discredited by a string of failures of its own. The federal government is therefore basing its impending decision on inadequate information, gathered by two discredited review processes, without ever having held a formal public hearing.
With the recent suspension of the NEB hearings on the Energy East pipeline due to conflict of interest issues, the mayors are pointing out that Kinder Morgan was reviewed under the same NEB leadership, and believe that both pipeline projects should be treated in the same way. Neither project can go forward until the NEB is overhauled, and a fair and rigorous public hearing process is in place.
The absence of a formal public hearing from the Kinder Morgan review process constitutes a significant erosion of the democratic rights of local governments, First Nations, and citizens to cross-examine evidence presented, articulate concerns, and voice opposition to applications.
The mayors believe that the Kinder Morgan project cannot proceed on this basis.
The mayors are gathered in Victoria this week at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention, which brings together elected officials from across the province. Resolutions disapproving of the inadequate NEB review process have been passed by UBCM in 2014 and 2015, and by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in 2015.
Comments from Chiefs and Mayors
“The NEB is an energy regulator and should not be responsible for environmental assessments or First Nations consultations. Their process is fundamentally flawed and insulting to First Nations.” — Chief Don Tom Tsartlip First Nation
“We had hoped that the Ministerial Panel would have closed the gaps in the flawed NEB consultation process; it did not. The risks have not been adequately addressed and the pipeline should be rejected. It is not worth the risk to British Columbia’s economy or ecology.” — Lisa Helps, Mayor, City of Victoria
“A 600% increase in tanker traffic from an expanded Kinder Morgan pipeline dramatically increases the risk of a devastating oil spill on the BC coast. It’s simply not worth the risk to Vancouver – or Canada’s – environment or economy,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “After being rubber stamped by Harper’s corrupted National Energy Board process, there remains overwhelming opposition to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline across BC communities, cities and First Nations. We are firm in our resolve that an expanded Kinder Morgan pipeline’s safety, environmental, and public health risks far outweigh any economic benefit, and it is not in the public interest.” — Gregor Robertson, Mayor, Vancouver
“On behalf of the City of Burnaby, Burnaby Council continues to stand strong with other mayors to condemn the flawed NEB and Ministerial Panel processes, and to demonstrate our collective resolve to ensure that Kinder Morgan’s dangerous proposal is not deemed by the federal government to be in the national public interest without first hearing from Canadians in a fair review process. Approval now would be based only on Kinder Morgan’s desire to cash in on Canadian oil for their corporate benefit, while depriving Canadians of jobs, profits, oil for Canada’s future, and environmental protection. Canadians must have a legitimate opportunity to have their views heard on this critical matter.” — Derek Corrigan, Mayor, Burnaby
“The preferred pipeline route was changed in the middle of the NEB process to run next to an ecologically threatened area in our community. The lack of information and due process has made it very difficult to protect the interests of our citizens.” — Jonathan Cote, Mayor, New Westminster
“The Federal Government and the NEB need to take a constructively critical look at the significant deficiencies of their processes and mandate and do so with an eye to restoring the confidence of the people of British Columbia.” — Patricia Heizntman, Mayor, Squamish
“Bowen Island residents are acutely aware of our close relationship with the Salish Sea. The seven-fold increase in tanker traffic that approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion would generate, and the associated increase in the likelihood of an accident, poses an unacceptable level of risk to our community.” — Murray Skeels, Mayor, Bowen Island Municipality
“Sooke’s coastlines and scenic values are at risk with the Kinder Morgan Project. Council held a plebiscite in 2014 and we received a strong message from our residents that our community is opposed to increased tanker traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.” — Maja Tait, Mayor, District of Sooke