Editor, The Times:
I have been asked by constituents to clarify the province’s position on the Trans Mountain pipeline proposal to increase oil delivery through the interior to the Port of Vancouver.
As Environment Minister in 2012 I, along with then Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Mary Polak, announced five conditions which need to be met by any project to increase heavy oil transport through BC. These conditions have not changed and include:
• a successful environmental assessment,
• world leading spill prevention and response on the marine environment,
• world leading spill prevention and response on the terrestrial environment,
• participation by First Nations, and
• a fair share of economic opportunity for B.C.
During the National Energy Board hearings on the TMP proposal, B.C. was asked to give its input as an intervenor. The response was that, to date we have not seen evidence presented that satisfies our five conditions.
I must emphasize that companies like Kinder Morgan have acknowledged and agreed with the five conditions so this response did not come as a surprise to them and they understand that the door has not closed on this project. Some of the responsibility to meet the conditions lies with the federal government (marine environment), the provincial government (terrestrial environment), and First Nations. Outside of the NEB process the company can also negotiate with the province, First Nations and communities to help meet some of these conditions.
I fully understand the economic opportunity the TMP project presents for the Thompson Valleys, both in community benefit agreements with local governments, with employment for First Nations and non First Nations, and I have confidence that Kinder Morgan is capable of a positive relationship with communities in our region – they have for decades. They have also won international awards for work on upgrading their existing pipeline through Jasper National Park – a U.N. World Heritage Site.
It is important to be consistent in our public policy toward such major projects and as Premier Christy Clark has said on national television, “The company has adopted the five conditions. Alberta’s adopted them. The federal government has adopted them. I think that Kinder Morgan can meet them.”
I hope this clarifies the B.C. position on this very important project that has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and other benefits in our communities.
MLA – Kamloops North Thompson
Minister of Health