Kinder Morgan may pick up tab for policing during protests


VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Kinder Morgan is not ruling out the possibility of covering policing costs due to protests around recent pipeline survey work in Burnaby, but says someone would have to send them a bill before they could decide whether to write a cheque.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, a prominent and vociferous critic of Kinder Morgan’s pipeline project, has raised the idea in an interview with a local newspaper.

But Ali Hounsell, speaking for the company, which has been doing initial drilling in Burnaby, said they can only go so far in commenting on an idea that has been floated in the press.

“It’s preliminary to say we would or we wouldn’t [pay] because we haven’t been officially asked,” Ms. Hounsell said in an interview on Sunday. “Had [Burnaby] told us directly they would be sending us the bill, it might be more clear, but [the suggestion] has only been in the media.” she said. “If [Mr. Corrigan] sends us a bill, we’ll assess it then.”

In late November, Mr. Corrigan told the Burnaby Now newspaper the city would try to get Kinder Morgan to pay for policing costs.

“We will be following up and we will be telling the National Energy Board that we consider Kinder Morgan responsible,” he told the newspaper.

In the same article, Staff Sergeant John Buis of the Burnaby RCMP said police officers cost about $100 a hour to be on the mountain.

The court injunction took effect Nov. 17, but the police response was stepped up three days later, the newspaper reported.

Mr. Corrigan did not respond to multiple calls on Sunday. RCMP officials did not reply to e-mailed questions.

The B.C. Justice Ministry, asked about the issue on Sunday, said in a statement that the police act required all municipalities to pay for policing within their municipal boundaries. Any arrangements between municipalities and third parties does not involve the province, the statement said.

Kinder Morgan is proposing to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs between Alberta and Burnaby.

To that end, it has been drilling a pair of test holes in Burnaby Mountain to assess the depths of the mountain – a route for the new pipeline, which has yet to be approved by the National Energy Board.

However, the effort has drawn scores of protesters opposed to efforts to transport Alberta oil sands crude. About 100 people were arrested and faced mostly civil-contempt proceedings for violating a court injunction to keep them from the work sites.

The RCMP enforced that injunction with a policing effort that involved scores of officers on duty 24 hours a day all week.

On Thursday, a judge threw out the civil-contempt charges because the company acknowledged providing incorrect GPS co-ordinates when it sought the initial court order.

As a result, the injunction was set to expire Dec. 1 as opposed to the Dec. 12 extension the company was seeking.

The company cleared out its equipment and crews over the weekend.

Talks are ongoing with a restaurant in the area that had its road access blocked as a result of the drilling. “We certainly want to ensure they and their employees aren’t impacted.”

Ms. Hounsell said Kinder Morgan expects further activism as a result of future work on their energy project. “I guess we might have to be prepared for this sort of thing to happen again.”

Ms. Hounsell said the results of the drilling are being assessed, but there were no surprises. That means any pipeline extension could be built with a “trenchless technique” – either a tunnel or a directional drill through the mountain.

“If, in fact, the pipeline gets approved and this option is the way we go, we won’t have to be on the surface of Burnaby Mountain again. We’ll just go right through it.”

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