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History of how and why we got involved

What do intervenors and commenters do?

As an intervenor, the City can ask questions, present written evidence, and raise issues with the NEB.

Commenters, such as the Park Board, may make only one written submission to the NEB.

On December 16, 2013, Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC applied to the National Energy Board (NEB) to expand its existing pipeline – a 1,150 km route between the Edmonton area and Burnaby, BC.

The $5.4 billion expansion of the 61-year-old pipeline is planned to go through some of the most densely inhabited parts of the Lower Mainland. The existing pipeline will remain operational as part of the enlarged system.

The project would include the reactivation of a 193 km pipeline and the construction of 987 km of new pipeline. If approved, the expanded pipeline would carry both light and heavy oil, including diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands.

The City of Vancouver is selected as an intervenor

On April 2, 2014, The NEB confirmed the City of Vancouver's role as an intervenor in the hearing process assessing the proposed pipeline expansion.

The Vancouver Park Board is participating as a commenter to ensure the NEB considers the potential impacts of the project on parks, beaches, and recent investments to restore the natural habitat around Vancouver waterways.

Application process

The NEB required interested parties to apply to participate by February 12, 2014 as intervenors or commenters.

Over 2,100 individuals and groups applied. Fewer than half of the 853 intervenor applicants were successful. 1,250 people and groups were accepted as commenters.  

Park Board application to participate in the hearings

February 11, 2014 – The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is the only elected municipal body of its kind in Canada.

The Park Board is mandated to provide, preserve, and advocate for parks for the benefit of all citizens of Vancouver. It manages 230 parks and 24 kilometers of waterfront along Burrard Inlet, English Bay, and False Creek including Stanley Park.

The Park Board also invests in projects to restore the natural environment around our waterways, including the creation of a salt water marsh at New Brighton Park and the restoration of Jericho Wharf. Our waterfront spaces are also an integral component of Vancouver's recreational lifestyle.

The Park Board's concerns

The Park Board has serious concerns about the expansion of oil tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet and the risks that this would pose to our parks and beaches. The public spaces entrusted to our management would be directly affected by an oil spill. A spill would directly impact on public use of these spaces and the local environment.

As advocates for our parks and beaches, we request an opportunity to express our view before the NEB's hearing on the Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC expansion project.

City application to participate in the hearings

February 10, 2014 – The City of Vancouver is the most densely populated urban marine centre in Canada with 630,000 residents and 70,000 businesses.

Vancouver contributes more than $40 billion per year to the Canadian economy (3 per cent of national GDP). Many residences and businesses, as well as significant park lands and beaches – including Stanley Park, a national historic site – benefit and depend on access to waterfront and Burrard Inlet.

The City's concerns

The proposed project includes substantial increases in tanker traffic, land-based storage, and transport of dilbit, all of which will directly impact and increase risks to Vancouver’s economy, public health and safety, and the environment.

Impacts will be magnified in the event of a spill or other accident/malfunction. Direct impacts on Vancouver include, but are not limited to:

  • Vancouver’s international reputation as one of the most liveable cities in the world and its leadership in sustainable development. The City's role as a leader in liveability and sustainability provides significant value to its economy, 94% of which is non-resource based. The fastest growing sectors are science, technology, professional services and construction. The local economy depends on Vancouver’s reputation for sustainability to attract businesses, professionals, and other workers and will be negatively impacted by the pipeline expansion project.
  • Vancouver's responsibility for planning and mitigating impacts of severe weather events and rising sea levels. This includes impacts on its infrastructure, and collaborating with other levels of government to implement Vancouver’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The pipeline project, through its impact on global GHG emissions, will significantly increase the overall need for and costs of adaptation.
  • Local water and air quality, sensitive ecosystems, and the health, safety, and security of Vancouver residents due to the proximity to Vancouver and its watershed.
  • Vancouver, its businesses and residents, including Vancouver’s $3.6 billion/year tourism industry, rely on parks, beaches, the 22km seawall and waterways for benefits of use, enjoyment, and added value. Vancouver’s commercial and residential property is worth $250 billion. Businesses and residents will be impacted by increased tanker traffic and any spill-related disruption to waterfront and beach access or commercial use. Closure of the Port would cost the Canadian economy $20 million/day.
  • Vancouver’s boundaries extend into Burrard Inlet and its responsibilities include police, fire, and emergency response services on land and water. Vancouver is statutorily required to develop and implement emergency plans and recovery measures and contractually obligated to provide emergency response aid to other municipalities, including Burnaby. Contingency planning for increased risks associated with the project, and responding to a spill or related emergency, will impose significant increased costs and resource demands on Vancouver.

The City's expertise

Vancouver has critical local knowledge and expertise that will assist the NEB in assessing the project, including:

  • Assessing spill response capacity and contingency plans, including earthquake and fire hazards
  • Identifying and assessing local conditions and risk factors including:
    • Air and water quality
    • Socioeconomic effects
    • Environmental impacts on ecosystems
    • Adequacy of design for climate adaptation, including projected local wave height and storm severity
    • Sufficiency of proposed mitigation terms and conditions, including liability and indemnification

Online questionnaire launched

June 13, 2014 – We launched our online questionnaire to gather input from residents and businesses, which we are sharing with the NEB to ensure all voices are heard.

Talk Tankers open forum for Vancouverites

June 14, 2014 – Together with SFU's Centre for Dialogue, we hosted an "open space" forum for Vancouverites. During the forum, which took place at the Roundhouse Community Centre, participants were invited to learn more about the Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC proposal, and propose and discuss dialogue topics with others.