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Canada’s Pipeline Deal Completes as Court Rules Approval Process Flawed

by John Brian Shannon

Four things have happened in relatively quick succession in regards to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project (TMX) that Kinder Morgan proposed back in 2013 and it’s important to understand those before proceeding.

  1. On November 29, 2016 Canadian regulators approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.
  2. On May 29, 2018, the Canadian federal government acquired the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.
  3. On August 30, 2018 the Federal Court of Appeals reversed the original decision of the court to approve the TMX pipeline.
  4. On August 31, 2018, the purchase of the TMX pipeline by the Canadian government from Kinder Morgan finally completed.

If the federal government wants to be able to restart work on the pipeline expansion project and be well placed to sell it to investors, the federal government of Canada must now enter into negotiations with the stakeholders who weren’t consulted in the original consultation process and gain their acceptance to allow the TMX pipeline expansion project to continue.

NOTE: On August 31, 2018 Alberta premier Rachel Notley pulled her province out of the federal government’s national carbon tax plan to register her displeasure with the Federal Court of Appeals and to put more pressure on the Justin Trudeau government to get the TMX pipeline completed.


How to Address Legitimate Safety Concerns of Vancouver and Burnaby Residents

It’s a huge undertaking to sail an oil tanker through English Bay and into Vancouver Harbour under the Lions Gate Bridge and the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, park it at Parkland Oil Refinery and fill that tanker with 250-thousand barrels of oil, tar sands ‘dilbit’ material, jet fuel, gasoline or naptha (all of them highly volatile or explosive liquids) and then sail out of Vancouver through a frenetic crowd of marine traffic including float planes landing and taking off every few minutes, ferries, pleasure boats, container ships and cruise ships.

Vancouver Harbour is far too congested for this dangerous practice to continue. There are almost half a million people living and working within a few miles of both sides of that very narrow waterway.

It may have been OK back in 1953 when the Trans Mountain Pipeline was originally built, but it’s definitely not OK now.

Oil spill could cost Vancouver $1.2 billion. Image courtesy of Global News.


A Solution Hiding in Plain Sight

What could solve these very serious issues, is to continue the TMX pipeline route on to Deltaport (a major industrial port south of Vancouver) and relocate the existing Parkland Oil Refinery in Burnaby, BC to Deltaport, BC. The existing site in Burnaby would need to be remediated as it’s unsuitable for housing or businesses due to the steep terrain and continuous rail traffic along the water’s edge.

The Delta Superport (Deltaport)

Parkland Refining Ltd., Burnaby, to Deltaport, BC

Parkland Refining Ltd. in Burnaby could be relocated to a much safer location at Deltaport to dramatically enhance safety for marine traffic and hundreds of thousands of people living and working in the Vancouver region. Image courtesy of Google.

The Deltaport facility in Delta, BC is already the site of a major rail terminus where thousands of rail cars offload 29 million of tonnes of coal every day for transport to ports around the Pacific Rim trading area and other large scale industries operate in Deltaport.

There are container ship facilities there and also some shipbuilding and ship repair businesses operate within the industrial zone. The Delta Superport site (Deltaport) was specifically chosen because it’s well away from major population centres in case of land or marine-based accident at the site.

Also, in the event of pipeline construction delays or oil spills along the Trans Mountain Pipeline corridor, railcars could haul Alberta’s oil and dilbit to the Delta Superport as they already travel from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Deltaport 365 days of the year.

For an extra $5 billion (for example) the federal government could continue the pipeline to Deltaport and assist Parkland Oil Refinery Ltd. to move their existing oil refinery to Deltaport, thereby neatly solving every safety issue.

If taxpayer revenue isn’t used to enhance the safety and security of hundreds of thousands of people, what is the point of collecting taxes in the first place? Surely Job Number One for any level of government is the safety of its citizens — especially when such large numbers of people could be adversely affected in the case of a major marine spill and/or fire in Vancouver Harbour.


Moving the Burnaby Oil Refinery to Deltaport Solves Every Safety Concern

Captains of oil tankers that leave port full of refined oil products (like gasoline, for one example) will be happy to find they won’t be ‘deking around’ a dizzying flow of float planes taking off and landing, small transit ferries packed full of commuters, pleasure boats, container ships and cruise ships — as they are forced to do when they arrive and leave through Vancouver Harbour and Burrard Inlet.

In fact, the only activity at Deltaport is the ten bulk carriers (coal) that leave port every day and (judging on personal observation, although not recently) the one container ship that leaves port every night.

As mentioned earlier in this blog post, way back in 1953 the Burnaby location was probably the best option for the region — but with the huge increase of marine traffic in Vancouver Harbour and English Bay since those days, it’s an accident waiting to happen.

If the federal government wants a solution that works for everyone this should be their Number One priority — and failing that — perhaps the proposal I’ve suggested should become a requirement for any potential purchaser of the TMX pipeline before their bid would be accepted.

It’s the responsible thing to do.