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

Extreme waves and king tides expected around Tofino and Ucluelet this weekend

Extreme wave hazard warning at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Strong winds up to 100 km/h for parts of Vancouver Island

Wind warning in effect for north, east and west Vancouver Island into Saturday morning

Ucluelet says goodbye to town’s only sports bar

“It started off big and we’re on the backside of the mountain now.”

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Four Tofino businesses up for Vancouver Island Excellence Awards

Tofino’s business community is shining with four Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards… Continue reading

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

Ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

Most Read