Common Sense Canadian

Vancouver Council Takes On Kinder Morgan Pipeline, Tanker Expansion

PostedMay 4, 2012 by in BC

Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision-led Vancouver City Council took another bold step yesterday in their increasingly outspoken opposition to Texas pipeline giant Kinder Morgan’s plans to increase dramatically oil tanker traffic through Vancouver’s harbour. The vote, which passed with all but one in favour – NPA councillor George Affleck – is the latest move by municipal leaders against Kinder Morgan since the company formally announced the intention to twin its existing Trans Mountain Pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to its Westridge Terminal in Burnaby. The existing line carries 300,000 barrels of bitumen a day, whereas the new line would add an additional 550,000 – slightly more than the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline to Kitimat.

The result, as the motion filed by the mayor suggested, would be a five-fold increase in oil tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet and South Coast region from the 2010 level of 71 tankers.The motion also noted, “It is estimated that even larger tankers will be required to take the increased volume of oil to foreign market, increasing the risk of a large oil spill, and requiring extensive dredging of the Vancouver Harbour and/or Fraser River.”

The motion called for the creation of a bylaw that “would require pipeline operators and oil tankers using Burrard Inlet, Vancouver Harbour and/or the Fraser River to indemnify the City of Vancouver and existing local industries through appropriate liability insurance at a level equal to the projected amount of clean up operation costs, and loss of business compensation for a worst case scenario oil spill.”

In the interim, it also decreed that “the Mayor write to Prime Minister Harper expressing the City of Vancouver’s strenuous opposition to any increase in oil tanker traffic, or measures that lead to increased oil tanker traffic, as it poses an unacceptable and unmitigated risk to Vancouver’s economy and environment.”

Council’s bylaw follows on the heels of the Vancouver Parks Board’s vote earlier this week to formally oppose Kinder’s pipeline and tanker plans and vocal comments from Robertson in the media, vowing to do everything in his ability to foil Kinder’s plans to turn Vancouver into a shipping port for the Tar Sands.

Council heard from Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation – on whose traditional territory the pipeline terminus and tanker terminal are located. The North Vancouver nation has come out in strong opposition to the project, reiterating its position Wednesday at City Hall. Other interveners included Ben West of the Wilderness Committee (see above video), Tarah Stafford of Tanker Free BC and West Coast Environmental Law’s  Rachel Forbes.

Read full motion – Bylaw for Liability Insurance Requirements for Oil Tankers and Pipelines that could Spill into Burrard Inlet or the Fraser River


About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.


    myna lee johnstone

    well i don’t know how many times i have to say this, but here i go AGAIN:
    STP being complicit in this: quit drivin around so much!


    I am from Alberta. Please take care of your beautiful province. You have no idea what the tarsands are doing to our rivers and streams and groundwater. It is impossible to clean up and the government does NOT help.
    You could lose everything, blackened coastlines, inlets and streams are inevitable . There WILL be spills. Many of them are kept quiet here.
    Keep BC beautiful, keep your home safe because no one else cares. They only care about money. To destroy your environment so China can have oil is inssane.


    Kudos to Vision Vancouver and Vancouver City Council, but the job is only half done. If Vancouver is truly a city that prospers by land and ‘sea’, then it is essential that Vision Vancouver and city council state their unequivocal opposition to the Enbridge pipeline/oilport project as well.

    To not do so, is to lend credence to the sentiments expressed so unambiguously by Jack Davis, then Socred Minister of Transport, in 1978, regarding the original Kitimat Oilport proposal – ‘go ahead and put it in Kitimat, there’s only a few Indians and fishermen up there anyway.’

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