Peaks mayor asks pipeline support

Kinder Morgan will twin Trans Mountain pipeline if approved.

Kinder Morgan will twin Trans Mountain pipeline if approved.

Kamloops This Week

May 17, 2015

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s board of directors will decide later this month whether to lend its support to the proposed twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline. Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine said he plans to ask the board to vote on a motion of support for the project at its May 28 meeting.

“My motivation is, really, as I said — I’m looking at it and saying, in the foreseeable future, petroleum products are going to be brought through the corridor,” Raine told KTW. “I think we have a responsibility to express an opinion on what is the safest and most appropriate way to do it.”

In Raine’s mind, that’s the twinning of the pipeline. It was in Dallas recently that Raine noticed at least 50 per cent of rail cars passing were oil tankers.

“It’s happening whether we like it or not,” Raine said of petroleum transport through the corridor. “For transporting it through the TNRD, the pipeline makes sense.”

For the Sun Peaks mayor, rail is a concerning method of transportation. After disasters like that which occurred last year in Lac-Mégantic, Que., Raine said it’s obvious transportation by rail and truck comes with risks. The Trans Mountain pipeline has already been operating across the province for 60 years, Raine said, with minimal problems.

Kinder Morgan made a presentation to the TNRD board almost two months ago, after which many of the district’s communities signed benefit agreements with the energy-infrastructure company. Sun Peaks was not one of those communities, which is why Raine is taking it upon himself to broach the issue for the district.

He is not bringing forward the motion on behalf of his council, but in the interests of the region in general.

“I felt I’m in a good position to bring this forward, completely unbiased, because we’re not a benefitting community,” he said.

Raine expects there to be healthy debate on the issue. While he hopes the future is of a world less dependant on burning fossil fuels, he said that’s not what’s at debate here. The issue today concerns the safest way to move the product.

“It’s going to impact our communities and environment if the wrong decision is made,” Raine said.

TNRD Area P director Mel Rothenburger told KTW he will be recusing himself from the discussion and vote regarding the pipeline, due to a conflict of interest.

Rothenburger is in discussions with Kinder Morgan as the proposed pipeline would go through his property. He, therefore, has a direct financial investment in the issue.

During his election campaign for Area P, Rothenburger told KTW Kinder Morgan “should ante up for a major contribution toward the cost of a $1.3-million upgrade to TNRD’s Black Pines water system.”

On Feb. 26, Black Pines received $150,000 from Kinder Morgan for drinking-water infrastructure.

NOTE — A couple of things about this story require clarification. The Black Pines water system won’t receive a contribution from Kinder Morgan unless the pipeline expansion is approved, and unless users within the water system approve borrowing for the local share. As I’m not a user within the water service area, I was free to advocate for a KM contribution toward the cost of a new water intake in the event of approval, without taking a position for or against the project. However, since the pipeline runs through my property, and I and my family would benefit financially from Kinder Morgan’s payments to land owners should the project be approved, I would be in conflict debating the issue of support for the pipeline expansion.

 

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