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Kinder Morgan and Burnaby clash in NEB hearing over Trans Mountain project

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CALGARY — Kinder Morgan Canada and Burnaby, B.C., clashed in a National Energy Board’s hearing room Monday over the fate of local permitting for the controversial Trans Mountain expansion project.

The company (TSX:KML) argued at the NEB’s Calgary headquarters that local political opposition to the $7.4-billion pipeline project has tainted permitting in the city and the process is now delayed, requiring the NEB to step in and override local bylaws to maintain the federal government’s wishes that the project go ahead.

“When unreasonable delay, which based on the evidence, could continue into perpetuity, (it) must be seen as an outright refusal and unconstitutional,” said Trans Mountain lawyer Maureen Killoran.

The company has been frustrated at the lack of firm timelines, guidance and structure in the local process as it tries to secure permits for actions like tree removal and fence installation ahead of construction of oil storage and loading facilities in the city, she said.

Killoran said strong and vocal opposition by Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan to the project has created an atmosphere of opposition, even if the mayor has not specifically interfered in the process.

“He doesn’t have to. He’s in the newspaper, regularly, this is their leader. He’s in the newspaper, on the radio, he’s everywhere. He’s on the radio saying who’s going to stand with me and stop the bulldozers?”

“It has poisoned the well within the city of Burnaby. We are not going to get an efficient process there,” said Killoran.

Burnaby, however, said there’s been no unreasonable or illegitimate delay, no intention from city officials to do so, and that it is the company that is to blame for the slow pace of permitting.

“It is our position that the time for permit processing here has been primarily driven by the incompetence, or the ineptness perhaps, or at least the inexperience, of the consultants for Trans Mountain in complying with basic municipal approval processes,” said Gregory McDade, Burnaby’s lawyer.

“Trans Mountain has failed to put in a minimally viable application that almost any experienced developer in the city of Burnaby or other major cities would have known to put in.”

McDade said it’s up to Trans Mountain to prove there has been an unreasonable delay or intention to delay, and that it hasn’t done so.

In legal filings, Burnaby also said that Trans Mountain didn’t apply for its Burnaby permits until June, with no explanation as to why they waited so long after receiving federal approval in November, 2016.

Michael Davies, Kinder Morgan Canada’s vice president of operations, said in an affidavit that it could cost the company between $30 million to $35 million in salaries, corporate support and other expenses for each month of delay in the project, while the company stands to lose more than $90 million in revenue for every month the start-up is delayed.

 

Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press

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Fire marshal releases cause of fatal Pubnico Head fire that killed four children

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s fire marshal says heat from a wood stove caused a fire last month that claimed the lives of four children in rural Pubnico Head.

Fred Jeffers says the stove was the source of ignition, and the origin of the fast-moving fire on Jan. 7 was around the chimney.

Jeffers released the basic information today after a spokeswoman for the provincial government refused last week to release the basic findings of the fire marshal’s investigation, citing “privacy laws.”

The fire marshal says his office is not in the habit of routinely releasing such information, but he confirmed basic findings have been released in the past when doing so was in the public interest.

Emma Kennedy and her common-law partner Phil Prouty escaped the blaze, but the fast-moving fire killed four-month-old Winston Prouty, four-year-old Jayla Kennedy, seven-year-old Mya Prouty and seven-year-old Mason Grant, a cousin who was visiting for a sleepover.

Jeffers says there needs to be more openness when it comes to releasing such information to the public.

“Based on this incident … we can certainly see that what we’ve done in the past is not in the best interest of the public, and we need to look at it,” Jeffers said in an interview.

The Canadian Press

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First Nations group wins lucrative clam fishery, breaks up Clearwater monopoly

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OTTAWA — A company made up of First Nations from Quebec and Atlantic Canada has been awarded a new licence for Arctic surf clam, breaking up a years-long monopoly on the multimillion-dollar industry held by fisheries giant Clearwater Seafoods Inc.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc says granting the lucrative offshore licence to Five Nations Clam Co. will boost Indigenous participation in the industry and spread economic and social benefits across eastern Canada.

Last year, the government announced it would add a fourth licence comprising 25 per cent of the total allowable catch of Arctic surf clam, and that the successful applicant would be an Indigenous entity and majority Canadian-owned.

Clearwater is calling foul on the decision following their unsuccessful bid, which involved partnering with 13 Mi’kmaq bands in Nova Scotia.

Five Nations Clam will partner with Premium Seafoods to harvest, process and market the catch.

The fishing grounds for Arctic surf clams are located mainly off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and the current quota is about 38,000 tonnes and worth tens of millions of dollars annually.

(Companies in this story: TSX:CLR)

The Canadian Press

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