Burnaby mayor calls Trans Mountain re-approval 'a slap in the face'

Mike Hurley said the twinning of the pipeline poses too high a risk to Burnaby residents

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley said he will keep up the fight against expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the project once again.

“I’m very disappointed but not surprised by the announcement at all,” he said. 

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Trudeau announced Tuesday his government had granted federal approval for the proposed twinning of the pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Hurley’s Vancouver suburb. It's the second time he has given for the expansion an official go-ahed, but the initial governor in council order was quashed by the Federal Court of Appeal in September 2018. 

The prime minister said construction could restart as early as this summer, but Hurley called the prediction “a bit optimistic,” predicting fresh legal challenges will delay the controversial project once more. 

Hurley said the City of Burnaby is “going to have a real look at” Tuesday’s decision and will consider several avenues to fight the project, including possible legal challenges. 

“I’m determined to protect the citizens of Burnaby; I believe that’s my job,” he said. 

During the 2018 election that saw Hurley defeat longtime incumbent Derek Corrigan, the political newcomer criticized his predecessor for chasing and losing several legal challenges against the Trans Mountain expansion – including some cases Corrigan himself admitted he expected to lose. 

Hurley said he will not pursue hopeless challenges.

“We won’t be jumping with both feet into something that we have no chance to win,” he said. “At the same time, I still believe I have a duty to do everything I can.”

Hurley, who met with Trudeau during a recent visit to Burnaby’s Hats Off Day, pointed out the Liberal government had just the day before passed a motion in the House of Commons declaring a climate emergency.

“It’s kind of ironic that the day before they announced a climate emergency, then they hammer a pipeline through our community. I think it’s a bit of a slap in the face.”

Hurley said his first priority is to block the expansion project, but he is also hoping to establish a better relationship with Trans Mountain to collaborate on safety plans around the Burnaby Mountain tank farm. 

Trans Mountain, a Crown corporation since it was purchased by the federal government from Kinder Morgan in 2018, has shut the city out of its plans, Hurley said. Trans Mountain claims to have more than adequate safety measures in place, but the mayor said that without the city’s involvement that plan is lacking. 

“We’ve been left out of every plan, have been left out of every planning process. They should be sharing that with us,” Hurley said. 

Terry Beech, the Liberal MP representing the riding where the pipeline terminates, said he learned of the approval like most people, by watching the prime minister’s announcement on TV. But, he said, he wasn’t surprised by the decision. 

Beech said he will continue to represent the riding by trying to address local concerns about the impacts of the Trans Mountain expansion project. The rookie MP said he facilitated the recent meeting between Hurley and Trudeau to ensure the prime minister was aware of the local issues. 

Beech’s NDP opponent in this fall’s federal election, Svend Robinson, plans to hold a press conference in front of his constituency office on Wednesday. In a statement, Robinson said Beech had betrayed a commitment he made to oppose the project if it did not garner local support. 

Beech said he had kept that promise by voting against a motion in support of the project in 2017. He was one of only two Liberals to do so.

“I have promised to represent our constituents. I have done that,” Beech said. 

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