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Trans Mountain answers only 248 of the 394 questions submitted by the City of Vancouver

July 4 2014

The City of Vancouver works with the Burrard Inlet Environmental Action Program to protect the inlet.

On Friday, the City of Vancouver will use its status as an intervener to call upon the National Energy Board (NEB) to direct Trans Mountain to respond to the 145 questions that remain outstanding from the City’s original submission to the NEB.

City's argument

The City will argue that most of the answers received from Trans Mountain were considered to be inadequate and in many cases the company avoided addressing what the City believes to be material issues with the proposed pipeline expansion, raising further concerns about the NEB’s Public Hearing Process.

Key areas of concern

Trans Mountain not sharing important documents with the City

Some key areas of concern include Trans Mountain’s unwillingness to share important documents with the City, such as its Emergency Management and Environmental Compliance plans, due to confidentiality concerns. Without reading these plans, it is difficult for the City to assess, comment on, or identify conditions related to the ability of Trans Mountain to respond effectively to spills and manage emergencies along the pipeline. The City is asking the NEB to address the lack of transparency being shown by the company with regards to those specific documents.

No details provided on what standards are used to determine worst case spill scenario

The company also did not provide any details on what standards it used to determine the worst case spill scenario, a key concern for the City as it questioned whether the worst-case scenario described by the company is reflective of what a realistic worst-case scenario would actually be like. Trans Mountain could not describe the compensation regime for damage and impacts of marine incidents involving fires, explosions, burning spills of oil, or diluted bitumen. It also made it clear that it would not be financially responsible for any costs incurred by the City as a first responder to any potential disaster even though Vancouver is the only regional municipality with fireboats on the water that could respond to shoreline fires.

Not able to provide compelling answers regarding climate change

Trans Mountain was also unable to provide compelling answers on how its business case was consistent with Canada meeting its national climate change objectives. This raises further questions on the economic feasibility of the project as studies have indicated a reduced demand for tar sands products under scenarios where governments seek to limit global climate change.

Public input

All of these concerns being raised by the City address one of the overarching purposes of the NEB Public Hearing Process – balancing the need for the project relative to the public interest. Consequently, the City, in partnership with the SFU Centre for Dialogue, recently organized an open forum where over 100 residents were able to discuss their views on the expansion project. The questions and considerations raised at the event will help inform the City’s process, ensuring that all voices are heard.

Join the conversation online

Over 850 surveys have been submitted so far, join the conversation online:

Learn more about the City's participation in the Trans Mountain pipeline