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Mayors stand together against Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal

March 31 2015

View of Downtown and Burrard Inlet

The mayors of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, City of North Vancouver, Victoria, Squamish, and Bowen Island have signed a declaration that pushes the federal government to put the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal on hold until the National Energy Board (NEB) addresses the significant deficiencies in its public hearing and review process.

The above cities look forward to working with other cities affected by the pipeline proposal to ensure that an appropriate review process is developed and implemented.

Resolutions that disapprove of the inadequate NEB review process have already been passed by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (September 2014) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (March 2015).

Hearing process needs stakeholder input and witness cross-examination

All mayors agree that the federal government must step in and introduce a fair and rigorous public hearing process that takes into account input from all stakeholders and cross-examination of witnesses, the same standard applied previously for all other projects.

The current hearing process is deeply flawed and limits cities' abilities to represent the voices of concerned citizens, businesses, and communities in an effective way. The lack of oral cross-examination is proving to be a real weakness of the NEB's hearing process.

Mayors' Declaration on Kinder Morgan National Energy Process

On behalf of our municipalities and our citizens who face the risks of Kinder Morgan's proposed Trans Mountain pipeline, the undersigned mayors wish to declare our non-confidence in the current NEB process.

It has become apparent that the NEB process does not constitute a 'public hearing' and is completely inadequate to assess the health and safety risks of a proposed pipeline through major metropolitan areas, and the potential risks of shipping bitumen oil to Burnaby and through Burrard Inlet, the Salish Sea, and along the coastline of British Columbia.

We have serious concerns that the current NEB panel is neither independent from the oil industry proponents nor ready or able to assess the public interest of British Columbians.

It is no longer a credible process from either a scientific evidentiary basis, nor from a public policy and public interest perspective.

This is not a public hearing. It has become apparent that the evidence presented by Kinder Morgan will never be tested by cross-examination. The second and final round of intervenor requests (IR) by written questions is nearing completion and is proving to be inadequate. The proponent has failed to answer the majority of questions submitted by municipalities and other intervenors, and in IR round one the NEB panel has failed to require reasonable answers. Because of the inadequacies inherent to the review process, hundreds of questions critical to public safety and environmental impacts remain unanswered.

The loss of the standard public hearing from the application review process constitutes a significant erosion of the democratic rights of local governments, First Nations, and citizens to cross-examine evidence presented, articulate concerns, and voice opposition to applications.

The undersigned mayors therefore call on the federal government to put the current NEB process on hold until an adequate process is in place, and to call on the provincial and federal governments, through their appropriate and respective roles, to develop, in consultation with local governments, First Nations, and citizens, the restoration of a full public hearing process to be applied to the NEB's consideration of all applications for major industrial project proposals.

We also call upon the Government of British Columbia to re-assert its role in environmental assessment, and to establish a provincial process with proper public hearings to assess this very substantial private proposal.

Mayor Gregor Robertson,
City of Vancouver

Mayor Derek Corrigan,
City of Burnaby

Mayor Jonathan Coté,
City of New Westminster

Mayor Darrell Mussatto,
City of North Vancouver

Mayor Lisa Helps,
City of Victoria

Mayor Patricia Heintzman,
District of Squamish

Murray Skeels,
Municipality of Bowen Island

What the mayors say about the hearing process

Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver

"The current hearing process does not allow for consideration of some of the most damaging aspects of the proposal - the inadequacy of emergency plans; the potential for marine oil spills; the effects of the project on climate change, and the threat it poses to our local economy. We want to demonstrate to our residents and businesses that we are taking the potential risks seriously, and we want to work together with other municipalities in the region to protect our economy, our environment and our people."

Derek Corrigan, Mayor of Burnaby

"We know that our concerns are shared by communities throughout the province. This flawed hearing process disallows review of aspects of the proposal that could cause the most significant damage. It is critical for this project – and for all projects that can harm communities and the environment – that we have federal review processes that are rigorous and transparent."

Jonathan Coté, Mayor of New Westminster

"While the federal government's desire to expedite energy exports is clear, the serious potential impacts of these large-scale projects, both locally and globally, makes a rigorous and transparent review process essential. The process must include the timely disclosure of all necessary information in an easily understandable format and provide all stakeholders with an opportunity for a full cross-examination of project proponents."

Darrell Mussatto, Mayor of North Vancouver

"A comprehensive and transparent public hearing process is essential to ensuring an informed decision is reached regarding the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal. The City of North Vancouver stands with our neighbours in calling for a hold on the review process until changes are made to respect the democratic rights of all stakeholders to ensure that health, safety, and environmental considerations are carefully examined."

Lisa Helps, Mayor of Victoria

"The City of Victoria is concerned about the impact of increased tanker traffic on our ecology and our economy. We're happy to stand with other municipalities to request a fair and rigorous process to ensure that both are safeguarded for the long term."

Patricia Heintzman, Mayor of Squamish

"It is fundamentally important for the National Energy Board to get back to its original purpose as an independent regulator and public watchdog in the protection of landowner rights, the environment and public safety. In this critically important function it has either become toothless or failed completely. Squamish proudly stands with other communities to call for the reform of the NEB and specifically the inclusion of a robust meaningful hearing process."

Murray Skeets, Mayor of Bowen Island

"As mayor of Bowen Island, I personally support this call for change in the public hearing and review process. Restricting access to the hearings and narrowing the scope of environmental assessment is not in the public interest."

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Learn more about Vancouver's submission to the NEB