Burnaby residents opposed to Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion plan are upset that Port Metro Vancouver was participating in the company's public information session at Stoney Creek Community School recently.
"The Port of Vancouver's participation in Kinder Morgan's public relations work to sell their plan to build a new, bigger pipeline to ship diluted bitumen gives the appearance of a serious conflict of interest," said local resident Elsie Dean, a founding member of BROKE - Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan's Expansion. The citizens' group, which includes people whose homes were sprayed with crude in the 2007 pipeline rupture, is against Kinder Morgan's proposed expansion to nearly triple oil shipping capacity by twinning the Trans Mountain pipeline. The line runs through Burnaby and has been in place since the 1950s. The expansion will greatly increase tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet, and it's Port Metro Vancouver's responsibility to ensure that the tankers are safely escorted in local waters.
Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart also got involved and penned a letter to Port Metro Vancouver, respectfully requesting the port "immediately cease its promotion of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion."
"Although personnel from the Port Metro Vancouver purport to be at the meeting to provide information to local residents on the issue of the proposed Kinder Morgan expansion, their presence suggests a tacit endorsement of the Trans Mountain expansion proposal," he wrote. "Furthermore, it will be noted that Kinder Morgan's presentation to investors, dated 24 March 2011, includes that the port is 'supportive of expansion.'"
Yoss Leclerc, harbour master for Port Metro Vancouver, told the NOW that the port is there to provide information.
"We are there to supervise the education of the public. We go to all the open houses, we provide information on the port's operation, on safety, and educate people," he said, adding there are times where the port teams up with other organizations during public information events.
When asked what the port's position on the expansion was, Leclerc said they are waiting for a chance to review the Kinder Morgan's application, which they will get a copy of once it passes through the National Energy Board process. Before Kinder Morgan can proceed with twinning the pipeline, the company has to submit a project application to the National Energy Board for review and approval, which they are planning to do in late 2013.
"There is a process that's ongoing now with the National Energy Board, and we need to have their approval, and we're going to have the project application, and we're going to have to review the project," Leclerc said.
Port Metro Vancouver's role is to oversee safety, security and environmental protection along 600 kilometeres of coastline, including the Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River. Leclerc said the port will continue attending Kinder Morgan's public information sessions if they have the time and resources.