There has been a change of plans for Burnaby residents who were hoping to attend an information session on the National Energy Board’s hearing process.
With Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion proposal on the horizon, the federal agency was planning to host a single info session in Burnaby. On Tuesday, the board announced it will now host a series of info sessions online instead.
Sarah Kiley, a National Energy Board spokesperson, explained that the change was made in case members of the public weren’t available for an in-person information session.
“We are looking at doing three or four online information sessions, (with) the exact same information. Reny (Chakkalakal, a process advisor with the board,) will be hosting them, so the same person who would be hosting a face-to-face public information session, just offering different options to people – different times different dates – and you can do it from your own home,” Kiley said.
While no dates have been chosen yet, the multiple sessions will cover the same information, so people have more options to participate, and anyone without a computer can phone Chakkalakal and get the same information. Chakkalakal will walk participants through the general information about the hearing process, explaining how it works and how to get involved.
“What she would do is run through different options for participation and what that looks like. We receive a lot of different questions around, what does it mean to have a pipeline on your property, so she can speak to that,” Kiley said.
While the National Energy Board maintains it made the change to include more people in the sessions, Alan Dutton of the Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion characterized the move as anti-democratic.
"Obviously, the online sessions are to individualize the process so that no collective voice can be heard or mobilized. This is anti-democratic," he said in an email to the NOW. "Eliminating public, face-to-face information sessions is a travesty and undermines the democratic process. Restricting information sharing to the Internet privileges one group over others and will also restrict information sharing about the process among groups and individuals."
The NEB won’t be offering any information about the specifics of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain expansion, since the company has not applied for the board’s approval yet. That application is expected to go before the board later this year. (For information on Kinder Morgan’s proposal, go to http://www.transmountain.com.)
To sign up for the NEB sessions, check for updates at www.neb-one.gc.ca. (The board will be releasing details on how to sign up for the sessions once the dates are chosen.)