An oil tanker flanked by tugs in Burrard Inlet.

Ex-B.C. Premier urges ‘plan B’ route for Trans Mountain pipeline

Mike Harcourt adds his voice to calls for oil to flow to alternate terminal such as Deltaport or Washington State

Former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt is urging the prime minister to insist on a different route for the Trans Mountain pipeline to carry diluted bitumen out to tankers at Tsawwassen or Cherry Point in Washington State, instead of risking massive civil disobedience by opponents in Burnaby.

He argued Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline twinning largely has local support along most of the route from Alberta to the B.C. coast so a “plan B” that diverts the pipeline south to a different terminal is worth exploring.

“The pipeline by and large has been approved from the oil sands to Surrey,” Harcourt told Black Press. “Where it hits conflict is when it gets to Burnaby and into Burrard Inlet, where one one spill would be a disaster.”

He said it was imprudent not to look at alternate routing to a less contentious tidewater port than the existing Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.

“It avoids some of the real and legitimate fears and concerns people have expressed about tripling the traffic in Burrard Inlet,”said Harcourt, who was NDP premier in 1993 during mass protests against logging in Clayoquot Sound. “I’d like to avoid a violent and sustained set of protests.”

Former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt.

Activist groups have vowed the $6.8-billion project will hit a wall of opposition, particularly in Metro Vancouver, and comparisons have been made to the violent standoff over a pipeline project in North Dakota.

Burnaby Mountain was the site of more than 100 arrests two years ago to make way for Kinder Morgan survey crews.

The idea of diverting the pipeline to a different terminal that would keep additional tankers out of Burrard Inlet and Vancouver harbour has previously been raised by Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley.

And the concept got a fresh lift this fall when it was flagged for further consideration by a ministerial panel review of the project appointed by the federal government to fill in gaps in the National Energy Board process.

That new review, co-chaired by former Tsawwassen First Nation chief Kim Baird, urged the federal government to consider whether Trans Mountain’s current route “is the right one.”

Kinder Morgan has so far rejected suggestions of an alternate terminal at Deltaport, saying it would add to the costs and environmental impacts.

Harcourt said any higher cost to accommodate a new terminal must be considered against the risk for the oil industry and the country as a whole of not getting a new pipeline at all. He said extra construction costs could be borne by oil shippers over time.

Vicki Huntington, the independent MLA for Delta South, said rerouting the pipeline to Deltaport is a “non-starter” because of the critical ecological habitat at the mouth of the Fraser River that would be vulnerable to a spill of bitumen.

Michael Hale, a Trans Mountain opponent with the Pipe Up group in the Fraser Valley, said Harcourt is wrong to conclude the pipeline will face less resistance if it only extends as far southwest as Abbotsford or Delta.

“Over 90 per cent of B.C. presenters were opposed [during the latest panel hearings] – it didn’t matter if you were from Chilliwack or Burnaby,” he said.

Climate change activists in particular who want to keep Alberta oil in the ground will aim to block the pipeline expansion wherever they can in B.C., he said. Nor do specific environmental concerns for the Salish Sea end with a different terminal.

“When you think of the ecosystems out from Deltaport – the salmon, the endangered orca populations – that region is already heavily threatened,” Hale said. “That’s going to mobilize people everywhere, whether it’s Burnaby or Delta or virtually anywhere else they can think of on this coast.”

A final federal government decision is required by mid-December on the NEB’s recommendation for conditional approval of the Trans Mountain expansion.

@jeffnagel

jnagel@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Saanich staff recommend rejecting ALR exclusion of former Royal Oak golf course

Finial decision rest with Agricultural Land Commission

Water damage at G. R. Pearkes facility expected to cost an estimated $500,000

Flood repairs have begun at Saanich library, recreation centre

Greater Victoria records second-lowest unemployment rate in Canada in September

Victoria’s unemployment rate of 3.2 per cent below Quebec City’s three per cent

Bonfires allowed in Saanich for $10 but only on Halloween night

Residents can purchase permits at any Saanich fire station

Fairfield-Gonzales residents aim to establish senior care phone line

The Fairfield-Gonzales Village would allow seniors living alone to have a direct line to resources

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Dog killed in alleged hit and run, Goodlife Marathon takes over city and more

Advance voter turnout up 25% for first two days: Elections Canada

Two million people voted Friday and Saturday

Okanagan principals told to confiscate vaping products from students

Vaping is up 74 per cent in youth over the last two years, according to one Canadian study

‘Rather mild’ winter expected in B.C. this year

Northwestern B.C. will be the worst hit

Court action in Trail acid spills may take years

B.C. court case involves a number of defendants and a number of plaintiffs

In the news: Sprinting to the election finish line and anger amid Manitoba storms

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years on B.C. central coast

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Most Read