Kinder Morgan is considering an alternative to the controversial notion of digging up Westsyde residents’ yards to twin an oil pipeline.
But it just might send the oil company from the frying pan into the fire.
That’s because an alternative route for the $4.1-billion Trans Mountain expansion project could bring the pipeline through the sensitive Lac du Bois grasslands park.
The Trans Mountain line was built in 1953 and runs Jasper-Kamloops-Hope-Burnaby. Its capacity has increased over the years but it is still 30 per cent oversubscribed. The application to expand it is expected in 2014 with completion expected in 2017.
The Lac du Bois route proposed for Kamloops would resolve the adverse reaction to the Westsyde route’s tearing up of streets and private properties.
But it brings up a whole new set of questions, said Coun. Nancy Bepple during an open house on the project Monday night.
“(Kamloops) City council has just asked the province to expand Lac du Bois Park,” she said. “So how will they ensure the integrity of the park and the remediation of the grasslands and impacts?”
At least a dozen Trans Mountain workers were at the open house to answer questions.
Project director Greg Toth said there are still plenty of considerations as well as discussions with stakeholders to be had before a concrete route is set for the pipeline expansion project.
“We don’t have a line on a map,” said Toth.
But, he said, should the pipeline go through parkland, meticulous remediation will be paramount, just as it was when pipe was laid through four other B.C. parks and Jasper National Park.
Although the possible pipeline route through Lac du Bois would follow an existing Telus right-of-way, Bepple still worried that the project would create easier vehicle access to the park, which the City has been trying to prevent.
However, the news may bring a sigh of relief from Westsyde residents, said Robert Kelly, secretary of the Westsyde Community Development Society.
“If it’s pursued, I think a lot of residents in Westsyde will be much more happy with the project,” he said. “There are a lot of economic benefits.”
If approved, construction would take another two years. At its peak, building the pipeline would require 3,200 workers.
Kelly suggested fears over pipeline ruptures and leaks may be exaggerated, saying he remembers the original pipeline being laid “right next door to us” in 1953 when he was growing up in Langley.
“It’s been in the ground there ever since and a lot of the people don’t even know the pipeline is there.”
Stuart Allen is of the same opinion.
“The majority of the people in Kamloops probably didn’t even know there was (a pipeline) coming through.”
Allen, owner of Frontier First Aid Sources, said he is “all for” the expansion project since it would mean good-paying jobs for his company and employees.
Kinder Morgan hired his company in 2006 during the Anchor Loop Project, which twinned a 159-kilometre section of the existing pipeline system between Hinton, Alta., and Hargreaves, B.C.
He said he also trusts the company to work safely and conscientiously around the environment.
“Kinder Morgan won an award for their work through Jasper,” said Allen, referring to the 2010 Alberta Emerald Award for environmental stewardship and responsibility for the Anchor Loop project.
The open house also drew people opposed to oil tankers.
Protestors leisurely walked through the open house with a banner stating “Say NO to Tankers!” emblazoned with an image of devastation from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Jim Wentworth said he’s opposed to the pipelines and mines because it amounts to ripping resources out of the ground and transporting it all over the world.
The industrial activity is having a destructive global environmental impact, he said.
“The oceans are warming and I believe the incredible storm off the east coast (Sandy) is generated by the heating of the water.”
Trans Mountain media liaison Allie Hounsell said project representatives intend to keep communities all along the 1,155-kilometre route from Jasper to Burnaby informed as plans progress and Kamloops may hear from them in the new year.
They have already made one presentation to council and Bepple said she hopes they continue to be proactive about keeping City councillors up to date.