The Fight Against Kinder-Morgan is Creating Pipelines of Social Sustainability

Written By Aynsley Wong, nth year Economics Major completing a Certificate in Sustainable Community Development.  She loves a good cup of coffee, and if you’re looking for her in a Venn Diagram, you can find her hanging out at the intersection between environmental and social justice.


What the frack is Social Sustainability?

Social Sustainability is the mechanism and process for creating healthy, livable communities.  There are many aspects to social sustainability, but some of the dimensions include: equity, diversity, interconnectedness, networks and relationships with others, quality of life, human growth and improvement.

What is the Kinder Morgan thing about?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, here is the quick summary.

Kinder Morgan plans to expand its Trans Mountain Pipeline, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, including tunneling pipe under Burnaby Mountain. 


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The expanded pipeline would increase capacity to 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day, up from 300,000. With the expansion comes increased risk of spill.  According to the National Energy Board, there is an average of 44 leaks and 3 ruptures reported per year in Canada.  Since 1961, the Trans Mountain Pipeline has reported 78 spills.

Perhaps you remember the Great Pipeline Rupture of 2007 on Inlet Drive?

And where is the oil from the expanded pipeline going to be stored?  In an expanded Tank Farm on Burnaby Mountain.

Perhaps you remember the Burnaby Mountain Tank Farm Rupture of 2009, where 200,000L was spilled?

The Burnaby Fire Department is very concerned about containment in the event of spill, fire or earthquake.  The City of Burnaby and the Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) are challenging the Kinder Morgan expansion in National Energy Board hearings and the City recently won a National Energy Board ruling which prevents Kinder Morgan from further geotechnical surveying in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area.

Is there Anything to Gain from the Trans Mountain Pipeline?

90 permanent jobs.

Expanded oil tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet.

Increased global consumption of fossil fuels.

Increased risk of environmental damage to land and sea.

Bonding and Bridging Social Capital

The protest against the Trans Mountain Pipeline is bonding social capital.  It is creating bonds between Burnaby neighbours in Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE), and between North Shore neighbours in North Shore No Pipeline Expansion (NOPE).  It is also creating historic bonds between Coast Salish Nations, resulting in an important International Treaty to Protect the Salish Sea, an initiative led by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and signed by leaders of 9 coastal First Nations in BC and Washington State.

The protest is also bridging social capital by creating bridges between different social groups.  On September 13, I attended a rally in Burnaby Mountain Park, which was well attended by seniors, kids, dogs, students, musicians, First Nations and politicians.  Dr Stephen Collis of SFU spoke, and while other faculty members may not want to come out on public record, there was a lot of *cough* grey hair and khaki pants in the crowd.

On the SFU campus, Sustainable SFU is taking the lead role in coordinating action between students.

Thank You Kinder Morgan

Thank you for encroaching on our homes, our workplaces, and our recreational areas.  Thank you for kicking us into action.  Thank you for making us engage with other people and forcing us to get to know our neighbours.  Thank you for bringing First Nations elders together in a room to define common goals, dreams and rights for our future.  Because of you, we are making building social sustainability in our community.

Blogging in Solidarity….from the Sustainable SFU Blogging Team.

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