Letter to Minister James Carr on Kinder Morgan

The following letter was sent to Minister of Natural Resources James Carr



"Our Wealth is in Our Water – Let’s Protect It"

30 May, 2017

Honourable James Carr, Minister of Natural Resources
House of Commons, Ottawa

On November 28, 2016 I wrote yourself and other federal officials regarding the route of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and the risks it poses to Chilliwack.

On May 18, 2017 I received your response in which you pointed out that the NEB is “assessing the exact location of the pipeline within the project corridor through its detailed route process,”. Had that process proceeded normally that information would have come 11 days after the May 7 deadline for participation in that process in Chilliwack. Fortunately there were problems with the publication of notices and placement of documents by Trans Mountain and in response to motions filed by The WaterWealth Project and the Township of Langley the company has proposed to republish notices along the entire proposed route. Pending a ruling by the NEB on the company’s proposal this will extend the time for statements of opposition to the proposed route to sometime in July.

Section 36 of the National Energy Board Act says that:
“Subject to subsections (2) and 35(5), the Board shall not give approval to a plan, profile and book of reference unless the Board has taken into account all written statements filed with it pursuant to subsection 34(3) or (4) and all representations made to it at a public hearing in order to determine the best possible detailed route of the pipeline and the most appropriate methods and timing of constructing the pipeline.” (emphasis mine)

In Chilliwack the proposed route of the pipeline crosses the Sardis Vedder Aquifer that is our sole source of drinking water, and even the City of Chilliwack’s protected groundwater zone within capture zones of city wells. It crosses the grounds of Watson Elementary School and Vedder Middle School. It runs between homes in residential neighbourhoods where the company initially planned to drill 20 metres deep into the Sardis Vedder Aquifer. Fortunately the City objected and the company altered their plans in that area, but the trenching method to be used instead will be extremely disruptive to 75 homeowners. The proposed route continues across Peach Creek and Browne Creek Wetlands, both areas where significant investments have been made in salmon habitat enhancement, and the Vedder River which lies between those two areas. It makes that crossing of the salmon habitat areas and Vedder River in a zone of very high liquefaction risk and within approximately a kilometre of the Vedder Mountain Fault, one of four geologic faults flagged by Natural Resources Canada as being of particular concern on the pipeline route. That section of the pipeline is also upstream, both as the river flows and as the groundwater flows, of Yarrow Waterworks wells and the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve. That, the company apparently believes, is the best possible route across Chilliwack.

The pipeline runs along Highway 1 from Hope to Chilliwack. It crosses the highway north to south  near Upper Prairie Road before going across the Sardis Vedder Aquifer and all of the problem areas outlined above. It returns to the highway at Kinder Morgan’s pump station on McDermott Road in Abbotsford. If instead of crossing Highway 1 at Upper Prairie Road the route parallelled the highway on the north side to the Evans Road interchange before crossing the highway to the south, then parallelled the highway on the south side to the Kinder Morgan pump station, that would provide a route that would eliminate or reduce all of the risks posed by the company’s proposed route. Such a route need not affect any distant expectation of expanding the highway as there is plenty of room outside the highway right-of-way.

The proposed route between Upper Prairie Road and the Kinder Morgan pump station crosses the properties of 245 landowners. Depending on the exact alignment, a route parallelling the highway would cross the properties of about 75 landowners. A route parallelling the highway would have no schools, no residential neighbourhoods, and no salmon habitat enhancement areas. It would move the pipeline off of the Sardis Vedder Aquifer, away from the protected groundwater zone and city wells, and away from Yarrow’s wells. It would move the pipeline away from the Vedder Mountain Fault and the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve.

To date in the detailed route process on the Trans Mountain project approximately 400 statements of opposition have been filed with the NEB. Nearly 200 of those have come from Chilliwack, including letters from the City, the Chamber of Commerce, the Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe, and many individual residents. A primary concern in those statements has been the Sardis Vedder Aquifer that all of us in Chilliwack rely on every day for the clean, healthy water we use in our homes and businesses.

Your May 18 letter said “We embrace discussion, evidence-based decision making, and scientific inquiry. The evidence is clear that the proposed route of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project across Chilliwack is not the “best possible route” that the NEB’s detailed route process seeks. Indeed, they would be hard pressed to find a worse route. It is reported that in comments on the agreement announced yesterday between the BC NDP and the Green Party of BC, Prime Minister Trudeau has expressed continued federal support for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. Will you demonstrate that federal support of the project is not blind support by adding your support also to the efforts to protect the well being of our community in Chilliwack?

Ian Stephen
Program Director,
The WaterWealth Project



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