First session of two-day Victoria Ministerial Panel hearings focused on First Nation, local government
A federal panel tasked with taking a second look at the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project is wrapping up its work in Victoria Monday and Tuesday.
Federal environment minister Jim Carr struck the three-member Ministerial Panel for Trans Mountain Expansion Project even before the National Energy Board delivered its report to government in May, which recommended approving proponent Kinder Morgan’s plans to triple capacity on its heavy oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, with 157 conditions finding overall the projects economic benefits place it in the national interest.
“The government had heard a lot of concerns about the NEB review process, they formed this panel to go out to canvass the public to see a full listing of what those concerns might be,” said panel member Kim Baird, a former Tsawassen First Nation chief.
In Monday’s hearing, Tsawout First Nation members explained meticulously gathered research on traditional knowledge of the sea, and how increased tanker traffic could affect traditional use, was left out entirely.
Then 6 South Island mayors and councillors had a turn, also arguing their concerns, put before the NEB, weren’t taken into account.
“It’s clear from all of the evidence on the record so far that the application is not in the broad public interest and that trans mountain’s application should be dismissed,” said Victoria mayor Lisa Helps.
A second day of hearings at the Mariott hotel Tuesday will give time to environmental groups, then a public roundtable.
While Baird acknowledged concerns the process was not well-advertised, she says online submissions are being taken until the end of September.
The panel’s report to cabinet is due in November, and the federal government will make a final decision whether to let the Trans Mountain expansion go ahead by the end of the year.