First Nations And Environmentalists Rally Outside Trans Mountain Hearings

 Two women sit outside the offices of the National Energy Board after locking themselves to the doors by placing bike locks around their necks, to protest the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday January 18, 2016.DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Two women sit outside the offices of the National Energy Board after locking themselves to the doors by placing bike locks around their necks, to protest the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday January 18, 2016.DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

By Red Power Media, Staff

Hearings on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion began in the Vancouver area today, despite calls from local politicians and protesters to halt the controversial review.

Protesters rallied outside the Delta Hotel in Burnaby today as the city of Surrey presented its case against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

About a dozen people, mostly from the Dogwood Initiative and the Squamish First Nation, waved signs and offered their support to the intervenors who headed inside the National Energy Board hearings.

First Nations, environmental groups and municipalities are set to make their presentations on Kinder Morgan’s contentious US$5.4 billion plan to triple the current capacity of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline.

The hearings will continue over the next 10 days in Burnaby, B.C., before wrapping in Calgary next month.

City of Surrey lawyer Anthony Capuccinello opened arguments by reiterating the city’s firm opposition to the expansion. The city, about 45 kilometres east of Vancouver, is asking the board to require Kinder Morgan to decommission and remove the portion of the current pipeline that runs through Surrey as a condition of any approval it grants.

The project has been contentious in part because the energy board streamlined the review process to meet time limits set by the previous Conservative government. Interveners did not have the opportunity to cross-examine Kinder Morgan representatives and instead were required to send in written questions, of which the company answered only a portion.

Protesters have been calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop the review and implement promised changes to the process.

Anti Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline protesters outside a NEB hearing at the Delta Burnaby Hotel in Burnaby, January 19, 2016.

Anti Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline protesters outside a NEB hearing at the Delta Burnaby Hotel in Burnaby, January 19, 2016.

Trudeau promised on the campaign trail in June to engage in a “new open process” for all pipelines and in August said a Liberal overhaul of the process would apply to existing pipelines.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan has written Trudeau, asking the prime minister to put the review on hold while his government implements its promised changes.

The B.C. government announced last week it could not support the project because of concerns about spill response and aboriginal support, while the Alberta government issued its support because of the economic benefits.

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