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British Columbians ‘personally conflicted’ over Trans Mountain pipeline expansion: Poll

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project's oil storage tank farm is seen in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016.
Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project's oil storage tank farm is seen in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

As the heat continues between B.C. and Alberta over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a new poll by Abacus Data shows that some British Columbians agree with both sides of the argument.

The poll presented eight arguments, four pro-pipeline and four anti-pipeline, to 900 B.C. respondents and asked them whether the arguments were persuasive.

LISTEN: Jon McComb talks to Markham Hislop about the poll’s findings

The results showed many felt personally conflicted, as a similar portion of respondents found both pro and anti-pipeline arguments persuasive.

“The argument that persuades the most people (63 per cent) is that the pipeline expansion would greatly increase the risk of an oil spill,” read the report from Abacus. “But essentially the same number (61 per cent) found persuasive the argument that ‘all provinces benefit from Canada’s oil and would benefit from this project going ahead.’”

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“So folks who support the pipeline, they worry about a spill, they are opposed, but they agree that all provinces would benefit if it was built,” said energy commentator Markham Hislop.

Similarly, while 52 per cent of respondents found the argument that the project was carefully reviewed and approved persuasive, 50 per cent found the process was inadequate, flawed and that it couldn’t be trusted.

READ MORE: Thousands march in Burnaby to protest Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

“This is far from entrenched polarization, and instead reveals a population which understands that there is no easy choice to be made when it comes to this project,” read part of the report.

Hislop says the poll shows British Columbians want the drama to be dialled down, and would like to see more emphasis on a resolution to the conflict.

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WATCH: Supporters of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion hold counter-rally

Supporters of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion hold counter-rally
Supporters of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion hold counter-rally

The $7.4-billion expansion would almost triple the capacity to carry diluted bitumen between Edmonton and Burnaby.

The Abacus poll was conducted online. It surveyed 900 B.C. residents aged 18 and over between Feb. 26 and Mar. 6, 2018. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 per cent.