The City of Burnaby is standing firmly against a new pipeline route proposed by Kinder Morgan that would tunnel under Burnaby Mountain.
Kinder Morgan believes the route would be less disruptive to residents, but the city is refusing to allow engineers to conduct the necessary geological testing to determine if the route is feasible.
The route would be part of the company's proposal to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline and triple the amount of heavy oil moving from Alberta’s oil sands to its Burnaby tanker terminal.
But Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan says he is worried about the environmental risks of the project.
“There would be less concerns if this was oil refined, but it's bitumen moving with a very caustic blend of chemicals” said Corrigan.
Kinder Morgan vice president Scott Stoness said at this point they just want to explore the option.
“We would like the City of Burnaby to allow us to go in to do some geological looks to make sure tunnelling works," said Stoness.
"If we don’t do that, then we can’t eliminate the unpopular route that goes by homeowners until we go in and look. We won’t know if the route through the mountain is possible from a geological perspective."
Decision rests with NEB
Ultimately, If the company chooses to go ahead with the plan, they won’t need the city’s permission to conduct geological testing.
That decision would go straight to the National Energy Board for an order, which would force the city to allow the company to conduct their research.
The city has hired a lawyer in an effort to try and convince the National Energy Board to take its side.
“They don’t take no for an answer so we are finding it’s a little bit like David and Goliath. We are talking about a big corporation with lobbyists in Ottawa that is pushing its weight around” said Corrigan.
Corrigan says Burnaby taxpayers don’t want another pipeline anywhere, let alone under a pristine conservation area, after the 2007 spill from the pipeline that impacted 11 homes and displaced a number of residents.
“I think many people just do not appreciate the devastation that can be caused by a mistake that’s made in regard to the Kinder Morgan pipeline or the distribution of oil within our community.”