Trans Mountain can bypass Burnaby bylaws and begin terminal work: NEB

Kinder Morgan's Westridge Terminal. Image: Kinder Morgan Canada

The National Energy Board issued an order on Thursday afternoon declaring that Kinder Morgan Canada is not required to comply with two sections of the City of Burnaby’s bylaws as the company prepares to begin constructing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

Kinder Morgan had filed a notice of motion and constitutional question with the NEB in late October after failing to secure Burnaby construction permits.

Lawyers for the company in a hearing last week said that vocal local political opposition to the project -- including by mayor Derek Corrigan -- had "poisoned the well" for the city's regulatory process, asking to bypass that process due to the project's approval by the federal government.

"This decision allows the company to begin work at its temporary infrastructure site near the Westridge Marine Terminal, and some work at the Burnaby Terminal, subject to any other permits or authorizations that may be required," the NEB said in a statement, adding that reasons for its decision would follow.

Kinder Morgan had expected to start construction on the $7.4-billion project in September but announced last week that "significant construction" was not yet able to occur due to permitting issues.

“Alberta welcomes today’s National Energy Board ruling. It gets us another step closer to shovels in the ground and more markets for our energy resources – something that benefits each and every Canadian," Alberta premier Rachel Notley said in a statement responding to the NEB decision.

“There is a not a school, hospital, road, bus, bike lane or port anywhere in the country that does not owe something to Alberta’s energy industry. We need to stop selling our resources at a discount and start getting full value. This pipeline comes with a world-class coastal protection plan, and the resources it carries will be produced under the strongest climate change action plan in Canada, if not all of North America," she said.

Burnaby mayor Corrigan called the ruling "an abuse of federal powers."

“City staff are shocked by the NEB’s decision, as city staff have been reviewing Kinder Morgan’s construction applications in good faith, focusing both on citizen safety and mitigation of environmental damage,” Corrigan said in a statement.

“The application process is the same one that hundreds of companies are required to engage in with Burnaby every year, but the National Energy Board has chosen to exempt Kinder Morgan from this very important requirement, in spite of the potential environmental, social and financial consequences.”