Crowds were sparse at the three-hour Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMP) information session at Straiton Community Hall Thursday night, where about 60 people in total came to learn more about the company's proposed pipeline twinning plans.
The oil transportation company, operated by Kinder Morgan Canada and U.S.-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, wants to increase its carrying capacity from its current 300,000 barrels per day to 750,000 bpd.
If approved the $4.1 billion project would add 900 kilometres of pipe along TMP's current 1,150-km route that runs from Edmonton through the Fraser Valley to Burnaby.
Tank terminal and pump stations like the one on Sumas Mountain and on Sumas Prairie at McDermott Road would also be upgraded.
The existing line will remain, but new pipe may have to take another route to skirt urban development that has grown up around it over the past 60 years, said Carey Johannesson, regulatory and land lead for Kinder Morgan Canada.
"We know the existing pipeline goes through some heavily populated areas. We're looking at each of the communities to see where we can go, if there is a utility corridor," or along roadways, he said.
One such built-up area is the Sandy Hill neighbourhood in Abbotsford - one possibility may be to take the pipeline through the Ledgeview Golf Course and further north of the existing line, Johannesson said.
A team of land agents are reviewing potential pipeline routes and in early 2013 will begin approaching Fraser Valley land owners to get permission to survey.
But before it goes to the National Energy Board in late 2013 for approval, the company must hold series of consultations with communities and First Nations, conduct environmental, socio-economic and land surveys, and talk to local governments and other stakeholders, said Johannesson. TMP has several teams overseeing different aspects of the project, such as wetlands or local regulations.
Greg Toth, Trans Mountain manager of the expansion project, said public feedback from this first round of hearings will inform the next round of information meetings, in which the company will address specific concerns in more detail.
One issue is the safety of the Sumas aquifer, should a significant pipeline leak occur - that should be addressed in the next level of public meetings, said TMP spokeswoman Lexa Hoben-shield.
The NEB will be watching to see if the public's concerns are addressed, said Johannesson.
"We'll have to provide facts to the NEB and they'll have to gauge whether or not we did enough," said Johannesson.
The TMP team of about 20 TMP engineers and other experts wearing green jackets were also at Straiton to promote the benefits of the expansion
Of the $4.1 billion project, $2.6 billion will be built in B.C. and it will offer labour and ancillary contracts plus other economic spin-offs for communities along the route during construction, said Toth. About 3,500 people could be employed during the peak construction period.
The new line will result in 35 new full-time jobs in B.C., and $3.6 billion will spent on its operations from 2019 - 2048.
In Abbotsford, TMP's annual property tax will rise to $3 million a year, up from the current $2 million it pays, said Hobenshield - the company will pay more than $2 billion in taxes to all levels of government over the life of the project.
However, Yarrow resident Michael Hale not impressed with the final employment numbers, or the offer of legacy projects.
"That's very nice, but will a legacy project help when there is a spill?" asked Hale, who is a member of the Fraser Valley-based pipeline opponents group Pipe-Up.
Hale came to the information session because he's concerned about the potential harm to the local aquifer and environment, but the project leads him to ask the "bigger questions," such as why Canada is expanding its fossil fuel sector at all.
To read about the Trans Mountain Pipeline plans, and to send in your questions, concerns or comments, go to transmountain. com/talk. To learn more about pipeline regulations and rights, go to neb-one.gc.ca.