B.C. residents narrowly opposed to Kinder Morgan, Enbridge pipelines: poll

WATCH: A Fraser Valley farmer says plans to upgrade a natural gas pipeline running across his cornfield could ruin his crops and he says he won’t let the company expand without a guarantee. Jill Bennett explains.

While the pipeline debate is still an abstract discussion for most British Columbians, it’s very real to Ian Sparkes.

“I’m not against pipelines, I’m not a pipeline activist, we all need gas, but it needs to be done properly,” says the Chilliwack farmer.

He’s one of twenty landowners that have been in a years-long legal dispute with Spectra Energy. They’re required by the Nation Energy Board to replace a 2.4-kilometre section of their pipeline due to population growth.

However, the farmers that would be affected aren’t voluntarily letting Spectra onto their land. Sparkes says his corn has never recovered after Spectra did work on the line in 2011.

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“We’re in year five and there’s still no harvestable corn here. What’s the 16 acres that they’re going to screw up next year?” he asks.

“My rows are east-west, and the pipeline is diagonal, so it cuts through several plantings. It [impacts] irrigating, picking, cultivating, putting my tarps down. We’ll work around it, we’ll do what we can, but it’s going to be a big issue.”

A Spectra Energy spokesperson says work on the pipeline has been deferred for a year, and an agricultural specialist will be called in.

Delays to pipeline projects in British Columbia are nothing new – and a plurality of British Columbians continue to oppose the two highest-profile proposed projects, according to a new poll.

WATCH: A new poll shows there is divided opinion on two major pipeline projects — Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan. Keith Baldrey breaks down the numbers.

On the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, 52 per cent of respondents in a new Insights West poll say they oppose the project, compared to 41 per cent who support it. And on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, 46 per cent oppose it, compared to 42 per cent who support it.

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But the most dramatic splits in opinion were found in the demographic breakdowns, with people under 35, women, and those in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island opposed to the projects, while men, people over 55, and those outside Metro Vancouver and Vancouver in favour.

“The demographic analysis tells the story of how the province currently feels about these two pipeline projects,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President at Insights West, in a statement.

“Women and the youngest residents are decidedly more forceful in their opposition, while men and those over the age of 55 tend to be more in favour, although their support is mostly moderate.”

The online study, conducted by Insights West, was done with 823 adult residents of British Columbia between July 23 and July 25.