Chilliwack & Kinder Morgan Dispute Resolution

route_options.jpgThere has been tension between the City of Chilliwack and Kinder Morgan over Kinder Morgan's plans to add a second Trans Mountain pipeline across the aquifer that supplies the city's drinking water, as well as other areas of great value to the community. At a June 6, 2017 Council meeting Mayor and Council decided to participate in the NEB's Appropriate Dispute Resolution process with the company. The Chilliwack Progress covered the meeting in both the print edition (page 3) and online highlighting some of the contentious issues of the project.

Kinder Morgan has thus far given no indication that they are willing to offer anything that will truly protect the water supply this city depends on, or the schools, residential areas, wetlands, and other assets put at risk by the proposed route of the pipeline.

In the council meeting Councilor Waddington said "with the community backing, it gives us a louder voice, to be heard by Kinder Morgan and the NEB." WaterWealth wrote to the City today to encourage Mayor and Council to seek the only solution that can guarantee the safety of city drinking water; change the route to move both new and old pipelines off of the aquifer. That letter follows.

Mayor Gaetz and Council    

Thank you for your efforts regarding the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project. It is notable that strong letters from the Mayor resulted in an invitation to meet in person with Kinder Morgan Canada President Ian Anderson, that invitation coming at the same time that Mr Anderson is quoted in media saying regarding the provincial government “I don't have any concessions planned for any further discussion at this point."

At the recent council meeting it was decided to engage in the NEB Appropriate Dispute Resolution process with Kinder Morgan regarding the route of the pipeline. Who from the city will participate in the dispute resolution process? While I am sure we can all have every confidence in city staff, an issue of this importance seems like it warrants direct participation by council as well. Certainly I hope no agreements will be entered into without discussion and voting in open council meetings. A high level of public interest has been demonstrated, and the outcome will have implications not only today but for every generation of residents to follow. Will residents be informed of what is being negotiated and given opportunity to express their views?

Given how consistently the company has stuck to their existing right-of-way, their “first routing principle” as TMEP Vice-President Safari called it in his letter of 1 May, 2017, it seems likely the company will come to the dispute resolution process only to talk about how to build across the aquifer, rather than with any consideration of not putting the aquifer at risk at all by going around it instead. I hope that the city’s position will be to remove the risk from the drinking water our community is rightly proud of and depends on daily, by rerouting both new and old pipelines off of the aquifer. Chilliwack does not need this pipeline. We do need healthy drinking water every day. By changing to a new route parallel Highway 1 Kinder Morgan could have their pipeline and we could be guaranteed that the source of our drinking water, and areas of great value to the community such as Rotary Trail and the wetlands and salmon spawning areas adjacent the Vedder River are safe from pipeline spills.

Of course if the company is recaltrant about adding risk to the city water supply and other assets and areas of high value to our community, the city need not make any deal with Kinder Morgan but can state the case for a smarter pipeline route at public NEB hearings later in the route approval process.

Ian Anderson’s letter of 6th June suggests that they may indeed come to the dispute resolution meetings with nothing to offer. The 2015 Nexen spill of 5-million litres in Northern Alberta is but one example that demonstrates that even new pipelines come with no guarantee of safety. Nexen’s double-walled pipeline less than a year old failed, and the leak was not detected by any of their safety and monitoring systems. Furthermore, monitoring of whatever sort, even if it works as expected, does nothing to prevent a spill into the aquifer. Changing the route would guarantee safety of the aquifer, but in his 6th June letter, regarding a possible route alongside Highway 1 Mr Anderson simply reiterates the response given by Kinder Morgan staff in February, a response that has more holes in it than the old pipeline has had over the years.

What follows is an excerpt from my statement of opposition to the route of the pipeline, filed with the NEB on 5 May, 2017. This portion of the statement addresses point by point Kinder Morgan’s objections to an alignment along Highway 1 as stated in a 6 February, 2017 email from TMEP Manager of External Relations Lexa Hobenshield to Chilliwack Deputy Director of Engineering Rod Sanderson, and the 15 February, 2017 letter Mr Anderson refers to in his letter 6 June. The excerpt starts with Mr Sanderson’s question;

Why can’t you route along Highway 1?

“It was difficult to find an acceptable corridor from the existing TMPL to Highway 1 without significant landowner disruption”

TMPL is already at Highway 1 where it crosses the highway near Upper Prairie Road. By our count, between the highway crossing at Upper Prairie Road and the pump station on McDermott there are 245 property owners directly impacted by the route. Trans Mountain’s proposed reroute away from the BC Hydro right-of-way alone will directly affect 75 landowners according to the section 21 application filed by the company and the PPBoR filed for that segment 6.3. A route along the highway, depending exactly where it went, might directly impact approximately 75 landowners in total. A route change to follow the highway results in significantly less landowner disruption.

“Once on a Highway 1 corridor, there are a number of pinch points that restrict this option through Chilliwack”

There are a greater number of pinch points on the proposed route. For example, look again at the segment 6.3 and the houses Trans Mountain was contemplating drilling 20 metres deep into the aquifer to go under.

“TMEP would then need to get back to TMPL at some point”

They could conveniently leave the proposed route north of Highway 1 by Upper Prairie Road and reconnect to TMPL at the McDermott Road pump station.

“TMEP has an approved routing corridor through Chilliwack & is not investigating alternative routing options”

And there’s the rub. ‘We have a route and we’re sticking to it.’ As stated in Trans Mountain’s Expansion Project Application Volume 4A Project Design & Execution - Engineering, section 2.8.2.2 “The primary criterion established for the selection of the TMEP Line 2 pipeline corridor was to locate it abutting the existing TMPL easement.”

For much of the project that probably makes sense. It does not make sense in Chilliwack.

In a letter to the City of Chilliwack dated February 15, 2017 Trans Mountain reiterated their route selection principle of “following the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMPL) right-of-way where practical”. The letter addressed the consideration of a route along Highway 1 by saying that “routing along Highway 1 would be impractical as it would potentially restrict MOTI’s future ability to expand the highway.” Given that on the section of highway 1 from Upper Prairie Road to McDermott Road there are farms and golf courses on at least one side with in the order of 500 to 750 metres or more between the highway and the next adjacent road one has to wonder how wide Trans Mountain expect MOTI to expand the highway to!

Specifically the Trans Mountain letter makes mention of:

“Overpass at Gibson Road” where to the north you have about 750 m agricultural land to Chilliwack Central Rd, to the south about 860 m to Prairie Central Rd.

“Overpass at Prest Road" where distances to roads to the north and south are similar to at Gibson Rd.

“Underpass at Young Road” where there is about 400 metres between the highway and the fence along the south side of the airport at Young Road.

“Railway overpass at Vedder Road”. Are they saying the pipeline can cross the Vedder River near a fault line, with salmon spawning grounds and dikes either side and wells downstream but it cannot drill its way under a railway?

“Vedder Road overpass” where there is agricultural land to about 650 metres north of the Highway.

“Evans Road overpass” where again there is large expanses of agricultural land in the north-east quadrant and the south-west quadrant. It would probably be best to drill under Highway 1 from the north-east quadrant of the Evans Road interchange to the south-west quadrant, a distance approximately equal to the distance they plan to drill the Vedder River crossing.

“West of Lickman Road” where one finds farms and two golf courses. No shortage of space parallel Highway 1.

“Crossing of drainage canal at No. 2 Road”. I can only assume they mean the Vedder Canal here. To cross the Vedder Canal is a distance of less than 300 metres dike to dike. Less than half the distance Trans Mountain proposes to drill under the Vedder River and adjacent salmon spawning areas.

“No. 3 Road overpass and interchange”, again with nothing but farms around. How far from the highway would they like to be?

And so we arrive at the Kinder Morgan pump station on McDermott Road.

This route along Highway 1 need cross no schools where the proposed route between Upper Prairie Road and McDermott Road crosses two. It need have no residences near the pipeline where the proposed route has approximately 157 homes within 50 metres or so. The route along Highway 1 would pose no risk to city production wells or Yarrow Waterworks wells. It would avoid Peach Creek and Browne Creek Wetlands where significant investments have been made in salmon habitat enhancement. It would not put the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve at risk. It would avoid the Vedder Mountain Fault. A route along Highway 1 would also provide easy access for emergency crews in the event of a spill whereas many areas of the proposed route would delay or complicate response in wooded or residential areas.

The Township of Langley contributed in the Joint Final Argument Of: City Of Abbotsford, Fraser Valley Regional District, Township Of Langley, Fraser-fort George Regional District And Village Of Valemount (C68-21-1 - Local Governments Joint Submission Final Argument - A4X5F4):

“The Township of Langley submits that neither the proponent’s application nor the NEB process has provided an appropriate or adequate assessment of alternative routes—including routes that would not place significant burden and risk on the most densely populated municipalities in British Columbia.”

That statement by the Township of Langley holds true in Chilliwack where the proposed route poses unnecessary and potentially severe risks to the health and safety of residents, areas of exceptional ecological value, and the local economy. Water is fundamental to the local economy, and the local economy is a key factor in the quality of life my family and all in Chilliwack enjoy, through access to jobs and services. It is also a significant factor in the real value of my family’s greatest single investment, our home. To give one recent example of the threat to the local economy posed by oil pipelines over the water supply, Molson Coors is building a $200-million brewery in Chilliwack, a project expected to provide up to 1,000 jobs during construction and 100 permanent jobs after. Josh Stewart, Western Canada corporate affairs representative for Molson Coors, said in an interview May 3rd “The water quality in Chilliwack is very high,” and “That’s one of the biggest things when you’re making beer, is making sure the water quality is consistent and high quality.” (Real Estate News Exchange, accessed 4 May, 2017 https://renx.ca/molson-coors-new-brewery-chilliwack/) From companies that rely on water directly in their processes and product, to offices that require functioning washrooms for staff, Chilliwack’s economy depends on the same water supply my family uses.


Sincerely,
Ian Stephen
Program Director,
The WaterWealth Project

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