Elected officials in British Columbia say they were caught off-guard by a suggestion from Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to shift the Trans Mountain Pipeline terminal to Delta, B.C., instead of Burnaby.

​Notley made the comment at a Bloomberg Live conference in New York on Wednesday. She said Kinder Morgan, the company building the expanded pipeline, may need to move the proposed terminal to win support for the project.

Mayor Lois Jackson told CBC News it was presumptuous of Notley to make the statement without talking to anyone in B.C. And at least one Delta councillor said the project would be "completely inappropriate" for the region.

"I think people are ready to set their hair on fire and run through the streets if this is yet one more thing coming through South Delta," said Coun. Sylvia Bishop.

"South Delta has faced enough industrialisation. We've lost enough farmland."

Bishop added that residents of Delta are already grappling with the potential construction of a new Port Metro Vancouver container facility at Roberts Bank

Notley trans mountain

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said her suggested route may help Kinder Morgan build support for its proposed project. (CBC News)

Vicki Huntington, the independent MLA for Delta South, also rejected Notley's suggestion.

"I'm sure the Premier of Alberta doesn't understand that the Fraser River delta is probably the most critical habitat in Canada," said Huntington.

"It's home to one of the greatest wildlife migrations in Canada, and the Fraser River is the greatest salmon spawning river in Canada. It's just an inappropriate place to even consider putting an oil bitumen pipeline."

Needs to meet requirements

B.C. Premier Christy Clark's reaction was lukewarm on the subject, falling back on the province's previously stated environmental requirements.   

"It bears more discussion but, ultimately, whatever the solution is that Alberta lands on, it's going to have to meet the five conditions," said Clark.

Those conditions are:

  • Environmental review needs to be passed.
  • World-leading marine oil spill prevention, response.
  • World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response.
  • First Nations opportunities, treaty rights respected.
  • Fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits for B.C.

Burnaby Kinder Morgan's 'best option'

Kinder Morgan maintains that the Trans Mountain project is an expansion of its existing pipeline, and that its current Westridge terminal in Burnaby is the best option from both a financial and environmental perspective.

"Trans Mountain is confident that expanding our existing facilities is the best option, and the one we chose to pursue," the company wrote in a filing with the National Energy Board last year.

"We feel Westridge terminal is the safest location that will also result in the least environmental impact."

In an email, Trans Mountain Expansion project spokeswoman Ali Hounsell said the company is not currently considering other terminal options and its application is only for an expansion of its current facility.

The Trans Mountain Expansion project would increase capacity on the pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

With files from Belle Puri and Canadian Press