Assembly of First Nations national chief wonders if Trans Mountain pipeline could end in Delta instead of Burnaby

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      Burnaby has become a seething home base for opposition to the planned expansion of the Trans Mountain oil-pipeline system. That's because the pipeline, which moves diluted bitumen from the Alberta tarsands, terminates at a port in Burnaby on the Burrard Inlet.

      If the Trans Mountain expansion project—which the Canadian government purchased from Kinder Morgan last month—were to include shifting the pipeline's route to end in Delta instead of Burnaby, would that address opponents' concerns?

      "Why don’t you move it to Tsawwassen?” Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde said in a September 24 interview with the Canadian Press.

      The planned route for the expansion runs through territory of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations, he explained, and their people have made clear they will never support the project.

      “They’re not going to change their mind, so why not find a different outlet?" Bellegarde added. "It might take a little longer, but it’s a win-win-win.”

      Delta already hosts large fossil-fuel infrastructure, mostly related to the transport of jet fuel to Vancouver International Airport. It's also the home of Roberts Bank Superport, a twin-terminal facility that moves significant amounts of coal. So Bellegarde's suggestion doesn't come out of the blue.

      The Trans Mountain expansion project involves twinning an oil pipeline that runs from Edmonton—where it receives diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands—to a port in Burnaby. Upon completion, it would triple the amount of bitumen transported to the Lower Mainland, increasing the number of oil tankers moving through Burrard Inlet from some 60 ships per year to more than 400.

      The Assembly of First Nations' national chief has suggested a route proposed for an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline could be altered to see it terminate in Delta as opposed to Burnaby.
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      The possibility of such a significant increase in volume has raised concerns for oil spills in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet as well as along the pipe’s route through southern B.C.

      Moving the pipeline's port from Burnaby to Delta would address environmentalists' concerns for the expansion's direct impacts on the Burrard Inlet. Larger considerations for climate change would however of course remain.

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