Vancouver trade board to fly Trans Mountain pipeline supporters to Alberta

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is flying about 100 business, community and Indigenous leaders to Alberta this week in an effort to show that some British Columbians support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion moving ahead.

'It's about supporting a positive relationship amongst all provinces,' says CEO

Iain Black, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, is organizing a trip of roughly 100 supporters of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. (Kinder Morgan/Greater Vancouver Board of Trade)

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is flying about 100 business, community and Indigenous leaders to Alberta this week in an effort to show that some British Columbians support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion moving ahead.

In reaction to opposition from the B.C. government, Kinder Morgan suspended "non-essential activities" and related spending on the pipeline last month. The company has said it will consult with stakeholders before May 31 in order to reach agreements that may allow the project to move ahead.

Iain Black, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, says supporters of the pipeline project feel their voices are being drowned out by those who oppose the expansion.

"Really, it's about supporting a positive relationship amongst all provinces in Canada. While certainly the Trans Mountain expansion project is a catalyst, this is so much more than just a single project or about a single project," Black told the Calgary Eyeopener Monday morning.

"This is a chance to reinforce the current importance of this country's energy and resource sectors for the benefit of all Canadians."

Kinder Morgan says it is consulting stakeholders before deciding if it will continue working on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (Trans Mountain)

His organization represents a range of industries, many of which are unrelated to energy. He said many of his members feel the resistance to Trans Mountain could spell diminishing confidence in Canada's economy and a downturn in investment.

Environmental criticism

The pipeline project has drawn criticism from politicians, activists and community members, who are concerned about the environmental impacts of the pipeline, how the pipeline contributes to the country's climate change plan, and the quality of consultations before the pipeline was approved.

Some Indigenous communities are fighting the pipeline expansion over concerns about the environment, drinking water and land rights.

Just this month, two Indigenous leaders went to Kinder Morgan's annual general meeting to present opposition to the project, the City of Burnaby, B.C., filed a pipeline appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Coldwater Indian Band told the National Energy Board the pipeline posed an unacceptable risk to its sole source of drinking water.

People opposed to the pipeline have been rallying and protesting. (CBC)

Black said his group's effort is intended to cut through and bring more "mainstream" voices to the forefront. While in Alberta, supporters plan to meet with Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce and the Alberta government to encourage them to continue working with British Columbians.

"It's very, very distressing for us to see acrimony between British Columbia and Alberta," Black said. "We are one big, very, very proud family in this country. We are bound together by so many things — and this is not OK."

'Very, very green agenda'

He's had so much interest in his effort that the board is reviewing applications for the trip in order to send a variety of people.

The trip, which he said is neither funded nor requested by energy companies, is not meant as advocacy.

The B.C. government is aware of the board's support for the project, but Black said his local municipal government is not receptive to business worries about investment chill. He said the mayor in Vancouver has "a very, very green agenda."

"He's entitled to that agenda but it's not one that's been consistent with the business community," Black said.

About 170 of the 200 people who attended side-by-side rallies in downtown Calgary last Wednesday were in favour of pipelines. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

The board of trade had been planning to send support in June but moved the date to this week in order to coincide with Kinder Morgan's on-going stakeholder consultations.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.