The risks to Victoria far outweigh any benefits of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps told a National Energy Board hearing on Monday.
An oil-tanker spill off the coast of Victoria could result in significant harm to the community, said Helps, who travelled with Coun. Ben Isitt to Burnaby to testify at the hearings into the pipeline-expansion proposal.
“Victoria residents and Victoria city council are very concerned about the environmental and socio-economic impacts to Victoria, its residents and businesses from Trans Mountain’s proposed increase in tanker traffic, and particularly the impact of an oil spill,” she said.
If the project was approved, Kinder Morgan would be able to triple its current pipeline capacity from Alberta’s oilsands to the B.C. coast.
Helps said Victoria has a direct interest in the project, which if approved would dramatically increase the number of tankers off the capital’s shores.
Isitt told the hearing that the city does not agree with Trans Mountain’s assertion that the marine oil-spill risk would remain the same if the pipeline expansion is approved.
He said Trans Mountain’s own evidence indicates the probability of a marine oil spill along the tanker route will increase to one spill in 46 years from one spill in 309 years.
“Victoria’s economy is closely tied to its marine environment. Victoria’s harbour is a prized asset and is a means to supporting green transportation, connectivity, vibrancy and investment downtown,” Isitt said.
“Victoria’s tourism industry, in particular, will be decimated by a marine oil spill. Victoria’s shoreline and marine environment are essential parts of its tourism appeal.”
Isitt said a tanker spill would have “significant and potentially catastrophic, environmental, economic and social impacts to communities in the vicinity.”
Before going into the hearings, Helps said she was pleased the province has also opposed the pipeline expansion.
“I think that puts us in strong standing as the capital city as an intervener. So our argument is solid. We’ll see what happens,” she said.
The Trans Mountain Expansion Project would expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton and Burnaby. It would include approximately 987 kilometres of new pipeline, new and modified facilities, such as pump stations and tanks, and the reactivation of 193 kilometres of existing pipeline. The Westridge Marine Terminal would also be expanded. Last week, the National Energy Board began 10 days of hearings on the controversial project.
The Burnaby hearings are scheduled to continue until Friday. The NEB will hold more hearings on the proposal in Calgary from Feb. 2 to 5.