British Columbia

City of Vancouver begins final push against Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion

With just months before the federal government will make a final decision on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project, Mayor Gregor Robertson spoke forcefully against the proposal in front of a ministerial panel.

Mayor Gregor Robertson told a ministerial panel the proposal was 'not in the public's interest'

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson speaks against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project at a ministerial panel in Vancouver on August 16, 2016. (CBC)

For years, the City of Vancouver has led a concerted campaign against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which could see nearly 900,000 barrels of crude oil a day shipped to Vancouver's harbour. 

Tuesday, the city began what could be its final push. 

"There is no question from our analysis it's not worth the risk. In fact, it's not in Canada's interest," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, at the first of three days of hearings held by a federal panel reviewing the project.

"People and the environment are at risk, but there is very significant risk to Vancouver's economy and the region's economy."

The project was given approval, subject to 157 conditions, by the National Energy Board in May, and the federal government must make a final decision by the end of the year.

In the interim, the ministerial panel has been tasked with meeting with communities along the 1,000-kilometre route between Edmonton and the Chevron refinery in Burnaby, B.C., which was originally built in 1953.

City critical of NEB approval process

Robertson presented along with city manager Sadhu Johnston, arguing that there was no social licence or economic case to nearly triple the capacity of the line. 

The city says an oil spill could cost the local economy up to $687 million in GDP. 

"This proposal is a major risk to existing jobs in Vancouver and the South Coast of B.C., and it's a major risk to the country-leading job growth we see here in green and innovation sectors," said Robertson.

However, Robertson's biggest criticism was towards the original approval of the National Energy Board, as he claimed multiple times that they failed to adequately address local and Aboriginal concerns before giving the conditional green light to the expansion.

"We have to talk about the damage to the faith of our residents in democracy. That's what's been impacted dramatically through the flawed NEB process," he said.

"The NEB did not consider all of our, and other experts' key evidence. That was dismissed without cause or explanation." 

Tomorrow, a number of environmental groups will be presenting a petition with over 144,000 signatures against the project. 

The panel will continue to hold hearings in Vancouver on Aug. 17 and 18, before concluding in Victoria next week.