Editor's note: This is one of four opinion pieces published today on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. For the complete selection of pieces, go here.
For me, engagement is about going into a conversation with an open mind and a genuine interest in what the other person has to say. It means listening to every question, concern and idea in order to understand another point of view, consider new ideas and ultimately, build a long-term relationship based on respect and trust.
Successful engagement isn’t about finding agreement on every issue or changing someone’s opinion. It’s about honesty, openness and a willingness to listen and learn. It’s this approach that has made our project stronger and has laid the foundation for us to build and operate the expanded pipeline in consideration of the many and varied interests we have heard.
In addition to our commitments, the National Energy Board’s recommendation to the federal government to approve the expansion project is subject to 157 conditions. Many of these conditions are in response to community and Intervenor feedback gathered through the review process and from the many residents who participated in our open houses, workshops and online opportunities. As a result of these conversations, we’ve improved and optimized our planning and mitigation measures to address concerns about our pipeline operations, emergency response and tanker safety.
We share the value Canadians place on the environment and we clearly understand the concerns raised about increases in tanker traffic, safety and emergency response. While the existing safety regime already meets global standards, we’ve proposed additional measures to further improve safety for the entire marine shipping industry - because spill response is about ferries, cruise and cargo ships, and all the vessels using our waterways.
If our project proceeds, there will be an investment of more than $150 million in marine spill response, including a new 24/7 spill response base in Vancouver Harbour. Overall, the investment will fund five new response bases, about 115 new employees and approximately 26 new vessels. This will double the spill response capabilities and cut mandated response times in half. And, the tug escort regime will be expanded to cover the entire tanker route – from our marine terminal, through the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
We’re committed to building long-term relationships with Aboriginal communities. To date, close to 40 Aboriginal groups located along the pipeline and marine corridor in Alberta and British Columbia have provided written letters of support for the Project. We are engaging with communities along our pipeline and the marine shipping corridor to ensure they see benefits to local community programs and infrastructure, including education, environmental conservation and improved local emergency response capacity.
We’ve demonstrated the demand for much-needed access to global markets and how building this pipeline will bring both dollars and many thousands of jobs for communities in BC and Alberta at a time when our economy needs it most. However, these benefits will not come at the expense of the environment or safety.
Our team is committed to earning your trust and confidence, and we know there’s still more work to do. I encourage you to reach out and provide us with your feedback, opinions and concerns. We want to hear from you. Whether you agree with the Project or not, we’re committed to continuing to work with stakeholders, communities and Aboriginal groups to support collaborative efforts to enhance safety, protect our environment and build a better project.
Lizette Parsons Bell is the lead for stakeholder engagement and communications at Kinder Morgan for its Trans Mountain Expansion Project.