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Ottawa urged to fund Burnaby fire department expansion amid Trans Mountain safety concerns

Click to play video: 'Ottawa urged to fund Burnaby Fire department expansion near Trans Mountain Terminal' Ottawa urged to fund Burnaby Fire department expansion near Trans Mountain Terminal
Officials are calling on Ottawa to pay for the expansion of the Burnaby fire department to ensure the safety of communities near the Trans Mountain terminal. – Mar 4, 2021

Officials are calling on Ottawa to pay for the expansion of the Burnaby fire department to ensure the safety of the community on Burnaby Mountain, where the Trans Mountain pipeline terminates.

Peter Julian, NDP MP for New Westminster-Burnaby, said at a press conference Thursday that his party has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for financial support to build a fire hall near the tank farm.

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“When you increase the volume, as Mr. Trudeau is proposing, you are increasing the risk and it is irresponsible that the federal government is not stepping forward and providing funding for safety that is so important for the residents in Burnaby,” Julian said Thursday.

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Burnaby City Coun. Sav Dhaliwal said around 30,000 people live and work near the tank farm, which will see growth from 13 to 26 tanks.

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“When you increase the volume, as Mr. Trudeau is proposing, you’re increasing the risk,” Julian said.

Fire Chief Chris Bowcock, meanwhile, expressed concerns about how quickly the company could respond to a fire at the Burnaby site.

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“This project may experience time-elapsed waits for fire response by the company operating the facility of up to four hours,” he said. “That means a fire will burn potentially for four hours before extinguishment even begins.

“The Burnaby Fire Department doesn’t work on a four-hour response model. We work on a four-minute response model.

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Read more: Emergency response at Trans Mountain’s Burnaby tank farm could take 6 hours, report says

Dhaliwal said a new fire hall should be built close to the facility and municipal taxpayers should not have to bear the cost.

“We really expect our federal government to step up and pay for it,” he said.

Julian estimated the cost to the feds for safety improvements at $8 million.

Global News has reached out to Trans Mountain for comment.

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