Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

A pipeline is pictured at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project in Burnaby, B.C., on June 4, 2015.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has suggested that Kinder Morgan might have an easier time selling British Columbians on the expansion of its controversial Trans Mountain pipeline if it altered the proposed project to bypass Burnaby and instead end farther south in Delta.

During a week-long trade tour to drum up outside investment in her province, Ms. Notley told a New York crowd at a Bloomberg-sponsored conference on Wednesday the company might "have to be creative" in its attempt to sidestep fierce local opposition to expanding the pipeline, which ends in the residential area north of Burnaby.

But building a bitumen export terminal off Delta's sensitive foreshore may only inflame criticism of the $5.4-billion project, and the Texas-based company maintains that the expansion of its existing facilities remains its best option.

Story continues below advertisement

Vicki Huntington, Delta South's independent MLA, called Ms. Notley's suggestion "unfortunate" and "ill-considered," noting that ending the pipeline there would "put the most valuable ecological habitat in Canada at risk."

"The Fraser River delta is an internationally significant area for millions of salmon and shorebirds, and I am firmly opposed to any such suggestion," Ms. Huntington said in an e-mailed statement. "I hope the Premier's future statements will reconsider Delta and the Fraser River Estuary as non-negotiable with respect to Kinder Morgan's proposal, as well as any future oil export proposal."

But Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said her community's existing coal export facility poses no real ecological threat to the area and she would welcome discussing the Kinder Morgan suggestion with Ms. Notley.

"Anything's possible, of course, but I think it's a long way from reality at the moment," she said.

Ms. Jackson's views are in stark contrast to those of Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who has vowed to go as far as getting arrested for civil disobedience to stop the expansion. (Mr. Corrrigan is out of the country on vacation and none of his representatives could comment on Wednesday.)

In its submissions to the National Energy Board, the company said it preferred expanding its existing Burnaby terminal because the Delta site would cost $1.2-billion more and require 40 new hectares of land for tank storage.

Ending a new pipeline there could also infringe upon the treaty rights of the Tsawwassen First Nation and create large environmental concerns for the nearby Fraser River estuary, which welcomes "more than five million migratory birds" and is part of "the most important salmon spawning river in the world," according to the company's NEB submissions.

Story continues below advertisement

Kinder Morgan wants to nearly triple Trans Mountain's capacity to almost 890,000 barrels a day. The NEB is set to release its final decision on the proposed expansion next May.

"Trans Mountain is confident that expanding our existing facilities is the best option, and the one we chose to pursue," Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Ali Hounsell said in an e-mailed statement. "Given the current terminal's proximity to the existing pipe, its proximity to a working harbour with spill response resources and well-established tanker transit routes and protocols, we feel [the Burnaby] terminal is the safest location that will also result in the least environmental impact."

Werner Antweiler, an economics professor at the University of British Columbia, said moving the terminal farther south, and directly across from the Georgia Strait, might silence pipeline critics opposed to the expansion of tanker traffic through busy Burrard Inlet. But moving the pipeline to Delta, he said, would still mean "the same number of tankers would have to go and anchor somewhere" in an area where a relatively small bunker fuel spill shocked the province earlier this year.

And moving the pipeline's endpoint still won't placate those vehemently opposed to any project that increases the carbon-intensive extraction of Alberta's oil sands, he added.

Meanwhile, upon hearing Ms. Notley's comments, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she and her Alberta counterpart still need to discuss oil pipelines in more depth.

"I am looking forward to talking to her more about where she sees these projects that would carry Alberta bitumen, where she sees them going," Ms. Clark said. "Whatever the solution is that Alberta lands on, it is going to have to meet [B.C.'s] five conditions.

Story continues below advertisement

"There will be no expansion on the movement of heavy oil to British Columbia from Alberta unless all five conditions are met ... and none of the projects have met those conditions yet."

Ms. Notley has said it is essential to link Alberta's oil patch with overseas markets. She has supported Kinder Morgan's expansion and TransCanada's Energy East pipeline to the East Coast, while opposing Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline to northern B.C. and appearing less confident in the ability to push the Keystone XL project south of the border.

With a report from Justine Hunter

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies