Day 6

Too close to home: Burnaby Mountain residents react to the Trans Mountain expansion approval

Residents fear the risks that may come with more oil tanks built below their mountain community — and some say they may leave if the expansion goes ahead.

Some residents fear the risks that may come with more oil tanks built below their mountain community

Grayson Barke, a Simon Fraser University student, left Burnaby, B.C., due to concerns over the possibility of a Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. (Submitted by Grayson Barke)

About 5,000 people live on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, right above the end point of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and many of them are worried about their futures.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion was officially approved by the Canadian government this week and the project includes increasing the number of oil tanks located on Burnaby Mountain.

Karl Perrin lives in UniverCity, a sustainable community near Simon Fraser University, on top of the mountain. It's located about a kilometre from Trans Mountain's tank farm.

Perrin told Day 6 that the tank farm sits below two intersecting roads that lead into his community.

"The concern of the fire department is that the new tanks will be built closer to each other than the existing tanks and if there is a fire in one tank, it could spread to the other tank," he explained. "You would have a domino effect."

A aerial view of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain tank farm is pictured in Burnaby, B.C., is shown on May 29, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Perrin said there is no clear way for residents to evacuate in an emergency like this, adding, "we haven't had any instructions from the city so far, but it's probably shelter-in-place which means tape up the windows and doors and try to survive."

For one resident of the community, the risk was too great.

"I ultimately decided to leave the area because of the risks associated with the Trans Mountain expansion," said Grayson Barke, a Simon Fraser University student and former resident who left the area with his wife in 2017.

For Theresa Burley, resident and president of the UniverCity Community Association, she said that she wants a proper evacuation plan in place as soon as possible.

"Right now, the current plan is for people to walk off the mountain which obviously would leave a lot of people behind," she said. 

"If the expansion does happen, we'll be strongly considering potentially moving off the mountain."

To hear more from residents listen to the full segment, download our podcast or click 'Listen' above.


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