After failing to get permits from the City of Burnaby for its Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project, Kinder Morgan has filed a motion with the National Energy Board (NEB) to allow construction to proceed regardless.
"After a thorough and lengthy process, taking into consideration local interests along with technical and scientific evidence, the NEB and the Government of Canada granted their approvals for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in 2016," reads a statement from Kinder Morgan.
"After many months of working in good faith to obtain municipal permits from the City of Burnaby without success, we are asking the NEB to allow us to go ahead with work under the terms and conditions of the applicable certificate and NEB orders."
Kinder Morgan argues the city's failure to act in a timely manner raises serious issues of jurisdiction and is also asking the NEB to establish a process for Trans Mountain to bring similar matters to the board for expedited determination in the future.
"Such measures are necessary to help mitigate a possible delay in the construction schedule," wrote Kinder Morgan. "While we await the NEB's determination, as always, our door remains open to the City of Burnaby and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss a solution."
In an email response to the Journal of Commerce, the city stated the process is taking so long because the permit and plan applications are extensive and complex and it is still working on reviewing them. The permits would include exemptions to various city bylaws, including zoning and tree-cutting.
City Manager Lambert Chu claimed that often Kinder Morgan's submitted applications have been incomplete, requiring resubmission and it would not be appropriate for the city to expedite the reviews in a way that does not respect its regulatory framework.
"Hundreds of citizens and businesses come to us with permit and rezoning applications each year," stated Chu. "Our building permits alone are approaching $1 billion for 2017. We treat all permit and rezoning applications equally and with respect, understanding that every requester is anxious for permit approval."
Chu added that for several months city staff have worked diligently and have also met regularly with company representatives in the process as directed by the NEB.
"Now the company seems to want more," Chu said.
In the email statement, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said Kinder Morgan's president personally came to him to complain about the lengthy permitting process.
"I made it very clear to him that I did not know why he would be contacting the mayor's office about the city's permitting processes, given that mayor and council are not involved in permitting processes," wrote Corrigan. "The city remains opposed to Kinder Morgan's pipeline project and council will continue to pursue every legal option to oppose the project. We will not, however, interfere with processes that Kinder Morgan has a right to pursue, including requests for city permits."
The city's statement also quoted Burnaby's external legal counsel, Greg McDade, who said Kinder Morgan's actions show a lack of respect for the municipal and provincial permitting processes.
"They promised the NEB and the Governor in Council they would follow municipal bylaws to get their approval, but now that they've got it, they're trying to change the rules, or bully the city into special approvals," wrote McDade.