Metro Vancouver to formally oppose Trans Mountain pipeline

The Metro Vancouver regional board is expected to officially oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but at least one mayor disagrees with the decision.

But Belcarra's mayor says opposing the pipeline could make movement of oil more dangerous

Protesters gather on Burnaby Mountain to oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (CBC)

The Metro Vancouver regional board is expected to officially oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion following the recent release of a projection that illustrates the possible environmental impact of a local oil spill.

However, at least one regional mayor disagrees with the decision.

Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew says that if energy giant Kinder Morgan can't transport Alberta oil to British Columbia via pipeline, it will only turn to what he believes is the more dangerous alternative of moving it by rail.  

"In British Columbia, our rail traffic comes down the Fraser Canyon," Drew told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"It's steep, it's windy and we've all heard of the rail derailments that's happened there over the years. A derailment of a unit train of oil tank cars in the Fraser Canyon will be nothing short of an environmental disaster."

Drew says a derailment could see oil spilled along the Fraser Canyon, down the Fraser River and into the Georgia Strait.

Kinder Morgan wants to triple the capacity of its existing Trans Mountain pipeline so that it can carry 890,000 barrels of Alberta oil to a terminal in Burnaby. The oil will then be transported in tankers to Asia.

Worst-case scenario

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, intervenors in the National Energy Board hearing of the pipeline project, have been some of the most vocal opponents.

The two cities recently partnered with the Tsleil Waututh Nation to create a model that shows between 50 and 90 per cent of oil would reach Burrard Inlet shorelines within hours of a 16 million litre-spill from tankers in Burrard Inlet.

The projection assumed a worst-case scenario with no efforts to contain the spill.

Drew calls the projection a fear-mongering tactic. Since North America will likely remain an "oil-based society," it's better to find the safest way possible to move the product than to suggest quitting oil consumption entirely, he said.   

"I see more cars being purchased now than ever before," he said. "The hottest vehicles are SUVs and pickup trucks. Society is not about to abandon the use of oil."

The deadline to file evidence to the National Energy Board is May 27.

To hear the full interview with Ralph Drew, listen to the audio labelled: Belcarra mayor opposes Metro Vancouver's opposition to pipeline expansion