Sunday, July 23, 2017
The City of Chilliwack
still spinning in circles on Kinder Morgan pipeline route as it
Voice staff/Submitted images
A proposed route change as
presented by Waterwealtlh.
after an announcement by Kinder Morgan of their planned pipeline
route through Chilliwack, incredibly, City still hasn't decided what
to do and they're now faced to make a last minute decision as the
pipeline prepares to barrel through Chilliwack.
conservation group Waterweath Project, led by campaign director Ian
Stephen, who have been vocal opponents of the of the planned Kinder
Morgan pipeline route through Chilliwack from the onset, told The
Voice Friday that they're making headway in coming up with
alternative routes that they would to present to Chilliwack's mayor
and council for consideration before a decision is ratified.
Aside from disdain
of many for pipelines in general, the primary concern of local
opponents has been keeping the pipeline well away from Chilliwack's
source of drinking water. It's unclear at this point what City staff
will recommend to council.
A few months ago,
David Blaine, Director of Planning and Engineering
for the City of Chilliwack downplayed the contentious route
by telling council the pipe would be double-walled over the aquifer.
According to Stephen,
instead of a double-walled pipe as Blaine was talking about, the
company would install thicker pipe over the aquifer.
"TMEP will commit to
install heavy wall pipe (14.7 mm wall thickness versus 11.8mm) for
the entire portion between Silverthorne Road to Watson Road. TMEP
will also add a valve in the nearest logical proximity with power
and communications, at or before the eastern start of Silverthorne
Road," says Stephen. "Thicker pipe is better than not, but it's only
the part of the aquifer
nearest the city wells. The extra valve does nothing in the event of
a leak below their threshold of detection. And neither thicker pipe
nor extra valve do anything to improve the safety of the aging pipe
that's there now."
Sharon Gaetz, who is just past mid-term, is still considering
staff's recommendation. However council's decision could leave a
tenuous legacy for decades should a problem with the pipeline arise.
Many feel that if
pushback to the pipeline route were to fail, this would spell the
end of the mayor and council's terms in office. Two years ago, every
other municipality in the Fraser Valley let go of upper level-staff
with the exception of Chilliwack who have the highest paid staff in
"I'll be glad to see
City Hall gutted if the pipeline route isn't changed," said one
concerned resident who preferred to remain anonymous. "It seems
money is their main concern, not the people of Chilliwack and the
environment and they should be run out of office. Back in the days
of the Romans, it they didn't like a politician, they'd put them in
a bag with a lion and tie it up."
Of course this isn't
they way they do it these days, people now show their disdain for
politicians in saner ways such as in the form of a ballot.
Morgan tested their response time and ability to deal with a spill
in Hope, BC. but it's unclear what the results of those tests
provides three alternative routes and discusses issues they've been
route Kinder Morgan proposed through the NEB hearing which
across Chilliwack was the old Trans Mountain right-of-way but
with a small change to follow the BC Hydro right-of-way from
about Watson Elementary School for about 1.8 km west;
• the old Trans Mountain right-of-way without the BC Hydro
piece which is the route Kinder Morgan have applied to the NEB
for a route change to because they couldn't work out technical
difficulties with BC Hydro, and;
• the Highway 1 route WaterWealth proposed and which
recently the City seems to be getting on board with a little
Along with those
three routes are three regulatory processes;
the main NEB detailed route approval process which has finished
its written statement stage and is awaiting the NEB's decision
on public hearing participation and schedule;
• the Section 21 application process for Kinder Morgan's
route change out of the BC Hydro right-of-way which has had a
comment period and awaits approval (or not) from the NEB,
approval from the Governor in Council (federal cabinet), and a
detailed route process of its own, and;
• the City and Kinder Morgan engaging in an NEB
facilitated Appropriate Dispute Resolution process over route
The Route of the
To protect the source of our drinking water, many in Chilliwack have
been working to have the Trans Mountain pipelines moved to a new
route away from City wells and off of the aquifer. Meanwhile,
pipeline owner Kinder Morgan has also been seeking route changes.
They have applied to the NEB for seven route changes including one
in Chilliwack that would move the new pipeline closer to City wells.
In Chilliwack the three routes in play are as follows.
The BC Hydro right-of-way
On this map the Vedder River Fan Aquifer that is the source of
Chilliwack's drinking water is shaded blue. (Also known as the
Sardis-Vedder Aquifer.) The pipeline route is shown in red. The BC
Hydro right-of-way option is shown in purple, going from Watson
Elementary School west about 1.8 km and south to near the end of
Deerfield Crescent. This was the route Kinder Morgan planned to use
but they say they could not resolve technical difficulties with BC
Hydro. Running a steel pipe parallel to 230 kV and 500 kV powerlines
has its challenges.
The Chilliwack Realignment
This is the change Kinder Morgan has applied for. It returns to the
1953 route instead of using the BC Hydro right-of-way. It moves the
pipeline closer to 4 City wells and puts it through Watson
Elementary School and 75 residential properties that the BC Hydro
option would have avoided. The 64 year old pipeline that is there
now is on this route. The twinning project does not include
upgrading that pipe despite its history of 82 leaks, 3 of which
spilled over a million litres. One spill into groundwater in 1992,
fortunately not a source of drinking water, is still being cleaned
up now, 25 years later.
The Trans Canada Highway route
This is the route WaterWealth proposed during the Ministerial Panel
hearings. The pipeline would follow Highway 1 from where it already
crosses the highway near Upper Prairie Road, to where it returns to
the highway at Kinder Morgan’s pump station at McDermott Road in
Abbotsford. The company could put two pipes in this route,
decommission the old pipe where it crosses the aquifer, and
completely eliminate any risk of oil spill into Chilliwack's water
supply. This is also the only route option that would protect Yarrow
Waterworks wells. If they are going to dig a new trench to put
another pipeline across Chilliwack this is the only responsible
place to put it.
The deadline for comments on Kinder Morgan’s Chilliwack Realignment
application was July 17. The City sent a letter objecting to this
route change because it would put the new pipeline, like the old
pipeline, right across parts of the aquifer that four city wells
draw water from (called capture zones). The City’s letter said “our
goal is to have the new pipeline route as far from the Aquifer as
possible and both the BC Hydro and TCH [Trans Canada Highway] routes
satisfy that goal.”
However, the fact is that the BC Hydro route would not even move the
pipeline out of the City’s Protected Groundwater Zone, much less off
of the aquifer. It would probably move the new pipeline out of
capture zones of two city wells, but would leave it within capture
zones of two others (capture zone mapping under way now will provide
the proof), and would still leave the old pipeline across all four
wells’ capture zones. The BC Hydro route would also do nothing to
protect Yarrow Waterworks wells, wells that Kinder Morgan seem to
think are at greater risk from their pipeline than the City wells.
Yarrow’s wells were included in Kinder Morgan’s June 16th list of
drinking water sources at risk while the City wells, unbelievably,
Our City is currently in a dispute resolution process with Kinder
Morgan over route issues. It’s a David and Goliath story with
pipeline jurisdiction outside of local government hands and our
small city up against the largest energy infrastructure company in
North America, a company that was able to raise $1.75-billion in a
matter of days with an IPO that was one of the largest ever in
However what our City has backing it up is us. All of the people who
love the place we live and who will come together in times of
crisis, as was demonstrated when our community responded to the Fort
McMurray fires, and is being demonstrated now as our community
responds in support of communities hit by this years’ wild fires.
In the dispute resolution process the City is engaged in now, and
the NEB detailed route public hearings to come, we need to let the
City know that we are with them. Together we can take a stand for
the protection of all of our drinking water wells, including those
of Yarrow Waterworks, by insisting on the one route that would
guarantee no pipeline spill ever into the drinking water we need.
The route alongside Highway 1.
You can write to the Mayor and Council to express your support for
the amended route
For more information
or to donate, please visit
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