‘Not enough room’ on old pipe route

Consultant Gabe Lamarche speaks to Black Pines meeting Tuesday night.

Consultant Gabe Lamarche speaks to Black Pines meeting Tuesday night.

BLACK PINES — About 40 residents attended tonight’s (Tuesday, Dec. 16) meeting at the Whispering Pines Community Hall to hear what Kinder Morgan consultants had to say about the proposed route for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

It was a useful meeting, and I’d say the general response was neutral, with an emphasis on getting information.

The main message was that expanding the pipeline through Black Pines requires a separate easement that will take a good part of it onto properties on the west side of Westsyde Road. The existing pipe runs between the road and the river.

“There just isn’t enough room to install the line and for construction activities associated with installing the line,” said Gabe LaMarche, a routing specialist with Universal Pegasus International.

He said Kinder Morgan’s proposal involves a new pumping station just south of the Whispering Pines reserve, with one pump for the existing line and another for the new one. The new pipe would run alongside the road through private properties that are mostly pastures and fields in the area close to the road, he said.

South of “downtown” Black Pines, the pipeline crosses the road. The new pipe would leave the existing right of way again at Jamieson Creek and head west and then continue south.

Residents wanted to know about safety and insurance issues, the condition of the existing pipeline, and the impact of supply and demand. The consultants said the line is in good shape and is tested frequently.

Kate Stebbings, a communications consultant, told residents that 13 producers are committed by binding contracts to using the pipe.

I liked the format for this meeting, which combined open house displays with the presentation and questions afterward. Too often, proponents avoid a town hall approach and opt for a strictly open-house format — which doesn’t allow for a Q&A in a group setting — or a tightly controlled presentation. This meeting used them all and it worked well.

TNRD environmental services director Peter Hughes, CAO Sukh Gill and I were there for the regional district.

The next steps will be for individual landowners to meet with KM reps, and for the TNRD to talk with the company about contributing toward the cost of the new Black Pines water intake. That depends, of course, on whether or not the company’s application to the National Energy Board for expansion is approved.

“Our team is looking at that and working with the TNRD to move that forward,” Stebbing said of the water-intake issue.

If the expansion is approved, construction would likely start in 2016.

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