The City of Vancouver’s pricey campaign against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion was "all about politics" and not an actual move to stop it, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says.

Details of the city’s ad campaign against the Trans Mountain pipeline were made available by request filed under the Freedom of Information Act. The paperwork shows that the city spent $300,000 on research and advertising.

The majority of the budget ($273,000) was spent on research used by the city during National Energy Board hearings in 2014 and 2015. The results of that research are available on the city's website.

But the city also spent $24,000 creating a website explaining to the public why the city was against the expansion approved in November. The page features a statement from the mayor, an email tool connecting the public with the federal government and a series of infographics explaining the expansion's effects on Vancouver's waters.

It also includes a brief history of spills, the impact a spill would have on marine wildlife and an animated illustration of how oil would be spread by the tide and wind.

The website does not include any information touted by those who approve of the pipeline, which the federal Liberals say would boost jobs, the economy and government revenue. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the pipeline will allow her province to diversify its market, getting the product to China where it will bring in more money.

Vancouver also spent $13,496 on a digital campaign to raise awareness of its website, buying Facebook ads targeting users of the social media site in Vancouver and Ottawa. Some of that budget went to ads on online news outlets Postmedia and The Hill Times.

Despite the expense, the pipeline was approved. Federal consent came just over a month after a tug ran aground near Bella Bella, spilling about 200,000 litres of diesel into the Seaforth Channel. 

On Tuesday, Mayor Gregor Robertson referred to the spending as a "modest investment" meant to show what the impact of a spill would be on the city.

"If there was a major oil spill that was triggered by a massive increase in pipeline and oil tanker activity in Vancouver, it could be billions and billions of dollars," Robertson said.

The mayor pointed to the 2015 spill in English Bay as an example, saying the costs associated with the "tiny spill" added up to more than $500,000.

The city is trying to get the money back in court. Charges were laid only last week against the owners of the vessel that leaked at least 2,700 litres of bunker fuel into the bay on April 8. A Greece-based company also faces charges in the case.

He said the decision to spend $300,000 was approved by council, and described it as the cost of building the city's case against the Kinder Morgan project.

But some said the bill ran up by Vancouver's governing party was largely for show; an empty gesture intended to link Vision Vancouver and the environmental movement in voters' minds.

"Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver have again put ideology ahead of what's good for the City of Vancouver," said Jordan Bateman, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"This is not about trying to stop the pipeline – the pipeline doesn't actually even go into Vancouver, it ceases in Burnaby. This was all about politics."

Bateman said Kinder Morgan has been in the area for years with no problems, and while many groups and individuals went before the NEB to speak against the pipeline, Vancouver politicians were "meddling where they don't belong."

He added that the $300,000 tab likely doesn't include the amount high-level staff members were paid to work on the project, which he estimates to be another $500,000.

"It was something that they were never going to get their way on anyways. Ultimately the decision lied with the people in Ottawa, not with the City of Vancouver, and they should have just spent that money on things that would have helped the city and stuck to their core mandate," Bateman said.