Chilliwack BC (With Files from Chilliwack Times, Merritt Herald,Vancouver Sun) – This was a political hot potato.
On the heels of the City’s criticism over Aevitus and their poor PR to “sell” the waste recycling plant to the city voters, another potential hot button was defused for the time being.
A Kinder Morgan project earmarked funds for a new pedestrian bridge, adjacent to, or attached to, the Southern Rail Bridge across the Vedder River. This bridge would connect the Vedder north and Vedder south trail networks and would ultimately allow the complete looping of the Vedder Greenway trail networks.
A bridge was noted in the Vedder Greenway strategic plan, but it would be expensive.
Kinder Margan was willing to shell out $800K with an understanding that the city would not be perceived as backing the proposed twinning of the controversial oil pipeline from Alberta, through BC, the Fraser Valley and onto Burnaby.
In a unique turn, this part of the council agenda was announced last week and to much fanfare and criticism on social media, burned up a few posts. In the past, a memo like this would usually just “Appear” in the posted agenda.
The irony is that the live feed for the afternoon council meeting, where many were hoping to watch the debate on line, failed. The City took to Twitter to apologize for the failure of the feed.
Councilor Jason Lum spearheaded the deferral.
The City wants to wait for the final NEB (National Energy Board) decision on the pipeline before moving forward and accept the money for a “community project”.
There was plenty of confusion on social media as to what exactly was agreed to. Again, Councilor Lum took to Facebook, “An important clarification. I have read that some people understand that the deferral motion was made until the ‘NEB comment period is closed’ The motion actually defers the decision until after the NEB makes a final decision on whether or not the pipeline expansion project will proceed. I believe that is the appropriate time to have the discussion – and I’m happy that Mayor and Council do too!”
In March, Pipeline company Kinder Morgan said they would invest $420,000 in Merritt’s infrastructure as a result of the city signing off on a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Other communities along the route have signed MOUs with Kinder Morgan for this kind of money to be distributed if and when the NEB approves the pipeline expansion: The District of Clearwater signed an MOU for $390,000, the District of Barriere $290,000, and Kamloops $700,000.