Landowners want ongoing payments for Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion

Members of Fraser Valley group control land affected by 60 kilometres of Kinder Morgan's pipeline

Kinder Morgan operates a pump station at terminal on Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford

Kinder Morgan operates a pump station at terminal on Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford

A group representing Fraser Valley owners say they want more than a lump sum payment in return for their blessing of the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

The Collaborative Group of Landowners Affected by Pipelines (CGLAP) was formed last spring and represents nearly 100 owners of properties in Chilliwack, Langley and Abbotsford who are affected by the pipeline.

Peter Reus, the group’s president and a Sumas Prairie grower, says more than 60 kilometres of the Trans Mountain pipeline cross 79 different properties owned by CGLAP members.

Kinder Morgan has proposed to expand its pipeline, which runs from Northern Alberta, through Southern British Columbia and the Lower Mainland to Burnaby.

Reus said representatives from the group – which has been granted intervenor status with the National Energy Board – have had productive meetings with Kinder Morgan, but that the stumbling point is an agreement with landowners over compensation.

In February, the group submitted a proposal calling for what Reus describes as a “long-term business partnership” involving ongoing payments in return for landowners’ co-operation.

Kinder Morgan countered in April by offering a one-time payout, but Reus said the group doesn’t intend on accepting the proposal.

“We’re not against the pipeline, but we would like to have the proper compensation for the nuisance of this new pipeline in our land,” said Reus, whose own property contains 1.7 kilometres of pipe.

He said the existing pipeline, which dates back 62 years, has long been a “hassle” for property owners. Reus said farmers have to call the pipeline company and wait for their assistance with any plowing below 30 centimetres. That can take time, he said, and can be problematic when a farmer hopes to take advantage of a small window of good weather to get a crop in.

He added that even the smallest alteration of the land near the pipeline can draw a helicopter – and all the disturbance the landing of such a craft brings – to farmers’ field.

Reus is also working with a pair of University of the Fraser Valley professors who are studying the effect of pipelines – in particular, their temperature – on growing conditions. No results are available yet.

“Now there is a chance for the pipeline company to make good,” Reus said.

Kinder Morgan has been receptive to the owners’ issues, and has promised to bury the new expanded pipeline – which will be constructed 20 feet away from the existing pipe – significantly deeper.

But the main missing piece is a financial agreement.

“If you look around, if people want something for the years to come, for a corporation and for usage, something has to be paid,” he said. “I don’t think we are different from First Nations who want to work with industry.

“It’s our land and they’re guests on our land.”

Despite the differences over payments, Reus said the two sides remain talking and hope to resolve the issues soon.