British Columbia

Trans Mountain pipeline tries to override Burnaby to gain permits for clearing 86 trees

This is in addition to more than 1,300 trees in Metro Vancouver that the Canada Energy Regulator has already let Trans Mountain cut down.

City of Burnaby say it will not fight Trans Mountain's application to federal regulator

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project also applied to the Canada Energy Regulator to override Burnaby's tree bylaw in 2017 and 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project has once again asked a federal regulator to overrule the City of Burnaby and allow the Crown corporation to cut down 86 trees near the boundary between Burnaby and New Westminster . 

The city has previously denied Trans Mountain permits to cut down these trees. 

Trans Mountain also requested the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) to overturn Burnaby's refusal to grant a street works permit allowing access to a construction area near North Road in the city. 

Filed on Aug. 3, the application states that Trans Mountain attempted to work in good faith with Burnaby before bringing the matter to the CER. It describes Burnaby's unwillingness to issue these permits as unconstitutional. 

This follows a similar conflict earlier this year, when the CER bypassed Burnaby and gave Trans Mountain permission to cut down more than 1,300 trees in the Brunette River Conservation Area. The decision made in February does not absolve Trans Mountain from compliance with other relevant city bylaws. 

Trans Mountain said in a statement to CBC that the city has never issued tree clearing permits for the pipeline expansion project.

Burnaby will not challenge application 

In a letter filed to the CER on Aug. 5, the City of Burnaby stated that it will not contest the request. 

"This does not indicate support and should not be interpreted as agreement with any of the facts or legal positions put forward by Trans Mountain. The CER has previously ruled on similar applications." 

The CER overruled Burnaby tree bylaws in 2017 and again in early 2021. 

Of the new trees to be cleared, 44 are located off of North Road, 10 North of Shellmont Street, and 32 in the Stoney Creek area. 

The Canadian government purchased Trans Mountain pipeline from energy giant Kinder Morgan in 2018 for $4.5 billion. The expansion project is twinning the existing pipeline and will increase the amount of petroleum it carries from Alberta to British Columbia's coast from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

Protests in the trees

A group of protestors have physically occupied the treetops of the Brunette River Conservation Area, where most of the trees are to be removed, for over a year. 

Simon Fraser University professor Tim Takaro is one of the leaders of this protest. 

A photo supplied by a supporter shows Tim Takaro, 63, in his treetop protest apparatus. (Jef Bradshaw)

"One would think that hundreds of British Columbians dying from climate change in the last month and fires out of control in the province would be enough of a wake-up call for this government to stop the project," said Takaro. 

Campaigns manager of Dogwood B.C., Alexandra Woodsworth, said the community activism surrounding the project has been effective. 

"It is really a powerful symbol of what community resistance can achieve. They have really held off pipeline construction in one area." 

Woodsworth said that Burnaby is up against a federal government that is prioritizing the interests of the fossil fuel industry. 

"We cannot be building a new pipeline in the middle of a climate emergency. We've got fires across the province… we've had deadly heat waves earlier this summer." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Gomez is a CBC writer in Vancouver. You can contact her at michelle.gomez@cbc.ca.

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