No Hearing is an Island

(Be sure to check the update at the bottom.)

langley_tm_rte_350.jpgYou may have seen the headline, “Trans Mountain deal means new Fort Langley foot bridge.”

The Township of Langley is getting $1.4 million from Trans Mountain’s Community Benefits program for construction of a pedestrian bridge in Fort Langley. This follows the Township withdrawing from the detailed route hearings on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in May. The Aldergrove Star article indicates the Township reached agreement with Trans Mountain on the issues of importance to the Township.

However, the Township decision to withdraw from the hearings has impacts beyond their own hearing.

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Pipeline Hearings, Home Stretch

stick person opposes oil pipeline across drinking water sourceJanuary 12, 2016 WaterWealth filed its final argument in the certificate hearing for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

WaterWealth argued that;

- the project should not be approved;

- if it was approved the route across Chilliwack should be changed so that the pipeline passes no closer to City wells than the Trans Canada Highway, and;

- the existing pipeline, installed in 1952-1953, should also be moved to the new route, away from City drinking water sources.

The Project was approved. The route was not changed, other than a variance by Trans Mountain that actually made it worse. And WaterWealth has been embroiled in the Project ever since.

Trans Mountain's original project schedule had the new pipeline in operation by the end of 2017. When WaterWealth filed that final argument in January 2016 no one expected we'd still be fighting the issue through 2020!

The outcome of nearly 5 years work to change the pipeline route will be known this Fall.

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Fossils (fuel) in a Reconciliation Era

Update: CER gave Trans Mountain what they asked for, reducing Sumas' hearing from ~205 km to ~21.

Original post:

detailed_route_and_realignments.pngThe issue of Indigenous title and rights is extra prominent in the Trans Mountain hearings right now, as Trans Mountain, a federal Crown corporation, ask the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) for a ruling reducing the geographic scope within which Sumas First Nation can argue their interests.

WaterWealth, like every Statement of Opposition filer and intervenor in hearings with overlapping geographic scope, was invited by the CER to comment on Trans Mountain's motion.

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Climate Monitoring Milestone Met

Earth-Day-white-2499-sq.jpgFor Earth Day's 50th anniversary, Earth Day 2020 was given the theme "Climate Action". Organizers identified climate change as "the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable."

Recognizing the importance of water in climate change causes, impacts, mitigation and adaptation, both World Water Day and World Meteorological Day chose for their 2020 themes "Water and Climate Change.”

World Water Day 2020 highlighted that;

"Humans need water to survive, as do all the systems we rely on: sanitation, healthcare, education, business and industry.

Action plans to tackle climate change need to be integrated across different sectors and coordinated across borders. And they must have one thing in common: safe and sustainable water management."

World Meteorological Day 2020 raised the need for monitoring, with;

"The world now faces increasing challenges posed by water stress, floods and droughts and lack of access to clean supplies. There is an urgent need to improve forecasting, monitoring and management of water supplies and to tackle the problem of too much, too little or too polluted water."

wmd_2020_web_banner_2.jpg

WaterWealth is excited to announce a milestone in our own climate action efforts, having selected the last of monitoring sites on the list of streams for our Chilliwack River Valley climate monitoring!

It’s a milestone that’s been a long time coming.

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Pipeline Update

Since the Trans Mountain Expansion Project was announced it has proceeded under 3 companies, 2 federal governments, 2 federal approvals (after the court nullified the first one), 2 BC governments, 3 Alberta governments, and a change of regulator with accompanying changes to their enabling legislation and federal environmental assessment legislation.

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In Chilliwack the city government chose to only file a letter of comment in the facilities hearing, and on the issue of routing came out in favour of the route across Chilliwack, then strongly against, then for, and now ... well, at least looking at options.

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Speaking for the Salmon

stewart_creek.jpgA news article about work Trans Mountain did in Yarrow 08/09 2018 has been coming up in social media again. "Trans Mountain pipeline work destroyed salmon habitat, scientist says". The article was about some maintenance work in Yarrow, BC, where Trans Mountain turned part of a very biologically productive section of stream -- made productive through volunteer habitat enhancement  efforts -- into a brick half-pipe. 

A more recent example of Trans Mountain's work at a waterway took place last year with the replacement of the old Line 1 pipeline's North Thompson crossing #6 using trenchless crossing methods.

While the North Thompson crossing #6 replacement was a maintenance project, it was also arguably the first example of a trenchless crossing on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project because they also moved the old line into the expansion project right-of-way.

Among streams where trenchless crossing is planned for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is the Vedder River and adjacent Peach Creek and (a portion of) Browne Creek Wetlands -- all important salmon habitat, and areas where large investments have been made in habitat restoration and enhancement.

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WaterWealth 2020. The Future is Nigh!

y2k-newsweek-cover_orig.jpgAre you old enough to remember New Years 1999? Did the year’s first two digits ticking over feel like the future had arrived?

Y2K brought plenty of concern over how computer systems would handle “00” in software with two digit date codes. As an electrician at the time I got to do some interesting backup generator installations. With about $3 trillion a day worth of transactions going through old COBOL systems, COBOL programmers were being enticed out of retirement to do a lot of the work that turned the Y2K scare into a non-event.

Maybe all the Y2K hype contributed to the arrival of the year 2000 feeling like a bit of a non-event too, at least for me. But 2020! That feels like ‘the future’.

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Something New for You!

-- Guest Blog by Jordon from the Chilliwack-Fraser Rotaract Club --

Do you remember the last time you did something completely new?

WaterwealthBlogTitleImg_200x.jpegWas it trying a new activity, or maybe mustering up the courage to go on a daring roller coaster?

What was the experience like?

Did it make you feel good in some way, or were you scared because it was so out of your comfort zone?

That’s how we felt when we discussed with Waterwealth about monitoring one of our local streams.

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Trans Mountain - Chilliwack Alternative Routes

route_alternatives_300w.jpgWhen the City of Chilliwack began engaging in the National Energy Board's detailed route hearing process for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (before the project got paused by the courts) they led with a statement of opposition that included:

"The City categorically opposes the routing of the project through lands proximate to the Aquifer. The Project must be routed away from the City's drinking water source"

Now, as detailed route hearings begin again, the City of Chilliwack seems to want look after the federal Trans Mountain Corporation's short term interests instead of the long term interests of our community.

One thing people writing the city in support of a safer route have heard back is that detailed route hearings are only to discuss the best possible route within the company's approved corridor. Perhaps the City are getting bad legal advice, or perhaps they're making bad political decisions, but in any case the question of scope of detailed route hearings has been raised, and settled, previously.

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GIC One More Time

As part of restarting regulatory processes for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project the National Energy Board is submitting for re-approval by the Governor in Council (federal Cabinet) all seven routing variances that occurred after the original project approval.

In Chilliwack, where the project is proposed to follow a route no entirely new pipeline project would even contemplate, the federal government had three opportunities to make a correction for public safety;

  • when they approved the project the first time;
  • when they approved a realignment of project segment 6.3 in Chilliwack, and;
  • when they approved the project the second time.

At the time of the first approval, WaterWealth letters to the federal government urging a correction here, by simply moving the project a short distance to the north to follow Highway 1, were responded to by directing us to the NEB detailed route hearings.

Route hearings are an adversarial process against the multi-billion dollar company's team of management, engineers, consultants and lawyers, played out before a panel of a regulator widely viewed as industry-captured. Of 94 detailed route hearings concluded prior to the original project approval being tossed out by the federal court, the NEB had ruled against the company exactly 0 times. The Trans Mountain project will in all likelihood be the last heard by the NEB. The federal government are in the process of replacing them with a new Canadian Energy Regulator.

At the time of the second approval, with the company now a federal Crown corporation, our letter was ignored with no reply from federal Ministers.

Canadians have heard the Trudeau government talk of listening to communities. We have heard them say that projects will only proceed if they can be built safely. The Expansion Project's segment 6.3 realignment in Chilliwack going to the Governor in Council for re-approval gives the federal government one more opportunity to walk their talk.

The following letter was sent to federal representatives on August 5, 2019. We urge Chilliwack residents to send their own letters. We should not have to fight a Crown corporation through an adversarial route hearing process to defend the drinking water source our community depends on -- though if it comes to that, we'll be in it to win it.

The list of email addresses we used for this letter is:

Justin.Trudeau@parl.gc.ca,
Amarjeet.Sohi@parl.gc.ca,
Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca,
Jonathan.Wilkinson@parl.gc.ca,
Marc.Garneau@parl.gc.ca,
Carolyn.Bennett@parl.gc.ca,
Ralph.Goodale@parl.gc.ca,
Navdeep.Bains@parl.gc.ca,
Bill.Morneau@parl.gc.ca,
Francois-Philippe.Champagne@parl.gc.ca,
Mark.Strahl@parl.gc.ca

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