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Kinder Morgan leans on Burnaby for access to conservation area

Kinder Morgan Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Kinder Morgan Canada will try to force the city of Burnaby to give the company the access it needs to assess a proposed $5.4-billion oil-sands pipeline route through Burnaby Mountain, chief executive Ian Anderson says.

The company has faced implacable opposition from Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan over a plan that would virtually triple the capacity of its TransMountain pipeline – to 890,000 barrels per day – which delivers Alberta bitumen to an export terminal in the Lower Mainland.

Kinder Morgan filed a plan to re-route a four-kilometre section of the pipeline from a residential area to take a more direct path through the mountain. As a result, The National Energy Board announced last week that it would delay company's permit application to provide more time to study the new plan.

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However, the city has blocked the company from getting into the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, saying it must provide more information about the risk of spills and public safety.

"We would prefer to have the city's permission to access those city lands in order to do the work, and we will be formally requesting that soon," he told reporters on a conference call on Friday.

"If it is not provided, we will go to the National Energy Board and seek a ruling of the board, who has the authority to instruct the city to grant us access to those lands."

He said he prefers to work with the city. But asked how he would characterize relations between the company and the municipal government, he said they are "non-existent."

Kinder Morgan plans to expand the pipeline that was built in 1953 to serve the booming production in Alberta's oil sands. Producers in landlocked Alberta are desperate for new routes to markets amid challenges to other proposed pipelines, including Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway from the Edmonton area to Kitimat. Federal approval of that project is being challenged in court by First Nations. Mr. Corrigan was unavailable for comment, but his opposition to the Kinder Morgan expansion is well known.

In May, Burnaby filed a request with the National Energy Board demanding information, saying the project "will require Burnaby and its citizens to live with significant new risks and costs for many years."

In the background summary prepared by the city's legal counsel, the city then asked: "Will TransMountain seek the assistance of the NEB to make orders imposing this project on Burnaby against the will of its citizens?"

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Mr. Anderson said he was disappointed the National Energy Board decided to extend the deadline for the application, but said he was confident the delay would not affect financing. He said the company will have to assess the impact on the construction timetable, although another company executive said it would push the completion date from late 2017 into 2018.

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