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Richmond council steps up pipeline protest

A banner the length of an oil tanker, unfurled by protesters in Victoria Monday, also symbolized jet fuel tankers that could soon travel up the Fraser River, said a Richmond councillor.

"What all those people don't realize is that tankers of that same size—Panamax supertankers—are planning to come up the Fraser River, which is much more dangerous water even than the waters up north," said Coun. Harold Steves.

At a council meeting Monday, civic politicians stepped up their opposition to the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation's proposal to ship jet fuel to Riverport and pump it to the airport via a new pipeline. Council passed a motion demanding a meeting with B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake to find an alternative—such as making better use of an existing pipeline that fuels the airport.

Monday was also a day of action on the B.C. legislature lawn, as over 2,000 people protested two other pipeline projects: Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline from northern Alberta to Kitimat, and a pending application by Kinder Morgan to twin its oil pipeline that carries Alberta oil to Burnaby and Washington state.

The airport's pipeline proposal is still under review by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office.

Steves called the harmonized federal-provincial review process "totally anti-democratic," as no public hearing on the proposal is scheduled.

"We need to challenge this to the fullest of our ability," said Steves. "I really don't understand who gave the authority to a group of private companies to overrule the City of Richmond, Metro Vancouver and the Agricultural Land Reserve in terms of putting a pipeline in."

Steves also questioned why Port Metro Vancouver is "judge and jury" on whether jet fuel tankers should travel the river.

The airport pipeline is getting "third billing" to other proposals, said Mayor Malcolm Brodie, but he said it's just as important.

"We don't want those tankers on the river, and we don't want the rest of what this whole proposal entails."

At Monday's meeting Brodie also announced a council resolution made behind closed doors—calling on federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel to "formally intervene" to stop the port from using the Agricultural Land Reserve for port expansion.

Council members have been leery of the port's expansion plans since its purchase of the 81-hectare (200-acre) Gilmore Farm in East Richmond in 2009. Port CEO Robin Silvester has said his first priority "is to get the most out of the facilities that we have without requiring any more land.

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