Day two of National Energy Board (NEB) detailed route hearings for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is in the books, and Tuesday’s cross-examination provided some tense moments.
The sharpest exchange came as City of Burnaby lawyer Greg McDade grilled Trans Mountain witness Michael Davies over whether the company had known, when it filed its route application in 2014, that it would run through Brunette River Conservation Area.
“Which way did you answer, I couldn’t tell,” McDade pressed after failing to get a yes or no answer from Davies.
“Madame Chair, this isn’t an episode of ‘Columbo,'” interjected one of Trans Mountain’s lawyers. “He is not entitled to a yes or no answer. I think it’s clear the witnesses are trying to give the most accurate and helpful answer they can.”
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Davies eventually conceded that the company had known the area in question was being designated for conservation but said the company has no plans to alter the route.
The city also used the hearing to challenge Trans Mountain’s characterization of the pipleline expansion as a “twinning” of existing infrastructure.
In another terse exchange, McDade pressed Davies on how much of the line that runs through Burnaby would be completely new pipeline.
McDade: “100 per cent of the route does not follow the existing pipeline in Burnaby?”
Davies: “Within Burnaby that is correct.”
McDade: “All new?”
Davies: “With the exception of use of the Burnaby terminal, and the Westridge Marine Terminal locations, that is correct.”
Kinder Morgan, Trans Mountain’s parent company, has accused Burnaby of dragging its feet on the 1,147-kilometre project, saying applications for permits have been ignored and that the city has tried to force additional, unnecessary reviews.
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The federal government approved the Trans Mountain project in November 2016, while the NEB gave the green light, subject to 157 conditions earlier that year.
Burnaby has denied stalling but admits it opposes the project which it says brings “significant and unacceptable” financial, environmental and social risks.
The city will have its own turn in the hot seat next, with officials set to testify before the hearing on Wednesday.
— With files from The Canadian Press