Burnaby politicians react to Trans Mountain expansion plans
The mayor of Burnaby is vowing fight the Trans Mountain expansion project, which he says puts oil industry profits ahead over the lives of the city’s residents.
Mayor Mike Hurley says the project "poses an unacceptably high risk to local residents."
Burnaby has been a flashpoint for the debate over the pipeline expansion for years. In 2018, ongoing anti-pipeline protests lead to an injunction and arrests at the Camp Cloud protest encampment near a pipeline expansion worksite on Burnaby Mountain. Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May was arrested in 2018 along with now-Vancouver-Mayor Kennedy Stewart as the pair violated an injunction at the work site.
The city is also home to the Westridge Marine Terminal, where oil tankers are loaded and shipped out through Burrard Inlet.
In response to the federal government’s decision to green-light the expansion, Hurley released a statement, saying in part: "As Mayor, my job is to protect the people of Burnaby.
"This decision ignores the public safety and environmental threat to people whose lives and property will be at risk if the project goes forward."
The city says it plans to join the B.C. government’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The province is appealing a B.C. Court of Appeals decision from May that ruled the province cannot restrict oil shipments through its borders.
Terry Beech, who is the Liberal Member of Parliament for Burnaby North-Seymour also released a statement Tuesday, saying he continues to oppose the expansion.
"Through many conversations in our community, and thousands of responses to our surveys, I can say with confidence that constituents in Burnaby North-Seymour, on balance, are opposed to this project. That is why I stand behind my vote against the project in the House of Commons, and why I have consistently presented our concerns to the Trans Mountain Ministerial Panel, Cabinet, Members of Parliament, and directly to our Prime Minister," Beech wrote.
Beech also revealed he had met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley and local firefighters to discuss safety on Burnaby Mountain earlier in June. The MP expressed concerns over the location of the tank farm, saying he does not believe it’s the right location.
"The Prime Minister assured our community that the necessary resources will be in place and that we will work directly with the Mayor and the Fire Department to ensure this is the case. In the longer term, I will continue my work to move the tank farm to a more appropriate industrial location," Beech said.
Responding to the pipeline controversy on CTV Morning Live on Wednesday morning, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Jonathan Wilkinson defended the project as compatible with the government's commitment to fighting climate change.
"We were part of putting together the Paris Climate Agreement," Wilkinson said. "We remain fully committed to achieving the Paris targets. The upstream emissions associated with this project are captured in Canada's climate plan, so there's no inconsistency with the approval of this project and achieving what we're committed to do."
Wilkinson said he expects construction on the pipeline expansion will begin this summer.