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Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project's oil storage tank farm is seen in Burnaby, B.C.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Globe and Mail

A lawyer for Kinder Morgan Canada says political opposition to the Trans Mountain project in Burnaby, B.C. has "poisoned the well" and disrupted the regulatory review process in the city.

In a hearing at the National Energy Board, Maureen Killoran laid out arguments about how lengthy delays in permit approvals from the city have set back the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion project.

Killoran says strong and vocal opposition by Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan to the project has created an atmosphere of opposition, even if he has not specifically interfered in the process.

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She says that more than a year after the federal cabinet approved the project, and months of engagement with Burnaby, the company still has no local approvals in place to begin work on expanding oil storage and loading facilities in the city.

Burnaby, which has yet to present oral arguments, said in its legal filings that Trans Mountain's constitutional question is misguided and premature because the city has yet to make any decisions on the permits.

With no decisions yet made, Burnaby says it's up to Trans Mountain to prove that the city has improperly delayed the process and says the company has not done so.

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