Metro Vancouver is bracing for protests in regional parks such as Colony Farm and Surrey Bend after negotiating a deal with Kinder Morgan granting its crews access to plan the route of the proposed Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion.
Regional district staff outline the agreements in a briefing note that will be before Metro mayors at a meeting Friday.
It sets out 10 Metro-owned properties – including portions of newly created Surrey Bend Regional Park, Colony Farm Regional Park and the closed Coquitlam Landfill – where Trans Mountain crews have until Nov. 30 to conduct non-intrusive supervised visual surveys on foot.
Metro has forbidden the use of vehicles, machines or any digging or sampling, and it has reserved the right to terminate access on 24 hours notice, but regional district staff have still flagged the visits as a potential source of conflict with anti-pipeline protesters.
“Once the licence agreements are ratified and Trans Mountain accesses the properties, there is a high likelihood of stakeholder inquiries and media interest,” according to the briefing note.
“Conflict in the form of public protest and civil disobedience are considered real possibilities.”
If that prediction proves accurate, the two regional parks may be ground zero for a replay of the confrontations that took place last November on Burnaby Mountain, where more than 100 protesters were arrested.
More recently, protesters rallied against the project near the proposed route in Fort Langley on April 11.
The regional district has not formally adopted a position on the pipeline twinning and stresses the access agreements do not constitute any form of approval.
It also addressed public concern that Kinder Morgan may assemble pipeline components in Colony Farm park for a tunnel under the Fraser River, a possibility that has already sparked protests.
Metro Vancouver says it has not consented to any use of its lands for construction staging or temporary work space, nor has Trans Mountain made such a request.
Metro is an intervenor in the National Energy Board review of the project and has filed numerous questions to Kinder Morgan.
Regional district officials are expected to report back next month with their assessment of impacts on regional assets, infrastructure and the environment.
Friday’s meeting will also see Metro mayors meet and question NEB chair Peter Watson and Canada Coast Guard assistant commissioner Roger Girouard, who is likely to face more questions about spill preparedness in the wake of the April 8 spill of bunker fuel oil in Vancouver harbour.
For his part, NEB chair Watson, who is on a cross-country outreach tour, wants the mayors’ advice on how the agency can improve oversight of pipelines and provide cities more information they don’t already have.
Mayors are also to discuss a call by Burnaby for changes to the NEB public hearing process for the Kinder Morgan project.
Mayors from seven B.C. municipalities, including Burnaby and Vancouver, have already issued a declaration of non-confidence in the NEB review.
Pipeline protesters squaring off against police on Burnaby Mountain last November.
Map of Metro Vancouver regional parks.