With nine days left to apply as an intervenor in Kinder Morgan's pipeline hearing, the company has quietly shifted its preference to the secondary Burnaby routing option announced last summer.
The NOW has learned Kinder Morgan would rather run the proposed pipeline down the CN railway tracks, instead of Lougheed Highway, contrary to information currently on the company's website and in its National Energy Board application.
Meanwhile, the deadline to apply for intervenor status in the hearings is next Wednesday, Feb. 12 at midnight. Burnaby residents with concerns about either route should apply if they want their voices heard, but they'll have to look beyond the company's website and delve into the massive facilities application to find a map of the second route.
As previously reported in the NOW, Kinder Morgan has been looking at two study corridors for the pipeline's route, but the preferred option, or "selected" study corridor, was down Lougheed Highway from North Road at the border with Coquitlam, and the railway corridor to the south was considered an alternative.
On Dec. 16, the company filed its application with the National Energy Board and indicated the Lougheed route was the selected corridor, but a recent document obtained by the Burnaby NOW indicates that the company now prefers the alternative.
"Since Trans Mountain filed their application, they have determined that the secondary alternative route in this area would be their preference, therefore we have shifted our focus to the option to the south and are now considering it our preferred route," writes Joey Andries, of Progress Land, the Edmonton company that has been distributing Trans Mountain pipeline notices to affected residents. "We will continue to do studies along the Lougheed Highway until such a time that a construction footprint is established, but our focus will be on the south route."
At press time, Trans Mountain's online interactive map only showed the Lougheed route and had a disclaimer to check the facilities application, which is an estimated 15,000 pages. (Click here for the maps.)
Trans Mountain spokesperson Lizette Parsons Bell emailed the NOW stating the interactive map on the company's website shows the selected corridor through Burnaby as of Dec. 16, when the facilities application was filed.
"In some cases, such as in Burnaby, two or more study corridors were filed, one as a 'selected' and the other as an 'alternative.' The Lougheed Highway route is the one shown on the interactive map and is filed as the 'selected' study corridor in the application. The route along the railway corridor is also in the application as the 'alternative' study corridor," she wrote. "All potential landowners who would be directly affected by either corridor have been directly notified by letter. We will continue to discuss alternatives with landowners and stakeholders as (we) move forward in our process to refine the route."
Kinder Morgan has always said the final pipeline path will be determined after the NEB approves the expansion, during the project's detailed design stage, something Parsons Bell reiterated in her email.
"Through discussions with stakeholders and our ongoing routing and environmental studies, we will continue to refine the study corridors," she added. "If there are any updates to our filing - such as to the selected study corridors - we will be required to formally submit this information to the NEB."
The NOW also called the Trans Mountain media line and spoke with Lisa Clement to clarify why some residents are being told the interest has shifted to the alternate corridor, when everything on the Trans Mountain website indicates otherwise.
"I wouldn't say more interested, there's still further consultation that needs to be done. What was filed on Dec. 16 is indicated on our website," Clement said. "Through further consultation, more routing studies, environmental studies, more information can become available. ... If a selected study corridor were to change, then that would get filed with the National Energy Board. As of right now, this is what's been filed."
In an unprecedented interview on Monday, the three National Energy Board members who will decide the pipeline's fate sat down with the NOW in Burnaby.
"It's not unheard of," said board member Lynn Mercier. "As companies consult with people and see and hear things, they might refine and change the course. It's part of the consultation."
The application is based on what was filed, board member David Hamilton explained.
"If they did file and they were accepted, and throughout the process, Trans Mountain decided to change the route, we would have to look and see if there were other people that were not part of the process who were impacted," Hamilton said. "But we don't know that till it happens. Our process allows us to be flexible enough to respond to that if it happens."
When asked if people who have applied as intervenors should be prepared to speak to both routes, Hamilton said they couldn't trigger anything like that because they had no information.
"The application contains both routes," Don Young pointed out. "The potentially affected parties should consider applying."
The public has a chance to weigh in on the hearing. The deadline to apply as an intervenor is Feb. 12, and it's been extended to 11 p.m. (midnight, Alberta time). For more information on applying, go to www.neb-one.gc.ca and click on Hearings and Information Sessions.
What routes is Kinder Morgan looking at?
North Road, on the Coquitlam border, along Lougheed Highway to Underhill Avenue, where it will take a right, passing a gasoline distribution station that sells Esso products. From there, it's a short stretch to the Kinder Morgan storage terminal, or tank farm, on Burnaby Mountain. The corridor route then heads from the north-west corner of the tank farm and then west along Burnaby Mountain Parkway, down a short stretch of Hastings Street, before turning right and running north close to Cliff Avenue and the Burrard Inlet Conservation Area, before connecting to the Westridge Marine Terminal, the dock where tankers fill up with crude.
The secondary route emerges from Coquitlam's North Road along the CN railroad, under Highway 1, and then along a stretch of the abandoned Burlington Northern Santa Fe right-of-way, which is now a trail. The route then runs along Gaglardi Way, and then rejoins the old right-of-way along Eastlake Drive, over to Underhill Avenue and then to the tank farm. The alternate corridor takes a slightly different route from the first to connect the tank farm to the marine terminal, by proceeding alongside the west side of Burnaby Mountain, just behind Pandora and Ridgeview drives.