Michelle Cooper with her three children

Michelle Cooper with her three children

Chilliwack parents have questions about oil pipeline and school safety

Meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at Sardis secondary

When Michelle Cooper’s three children play in their school yard, they and their classmates are sometimes right above a buried 30-inch pipe that carries Alberta oil sands crude to the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.

Kinder Morgan’s 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain oil pipeline runs right underneath Watson elementary’s school yard and right behind Vedder middle school’s.

The pipe has been there without incident (in Chilliwack) for 60 years, but Cooper and many parents know little about it.

As news coverage has increased over Kinder Morgan’s application to the National Energy Board (NEB) to triple the capacity of the pipeline by adding a second 36-inch pipe, so too has interest from parents like Cooper wondering if they should be concerned.

“There are 400-odd kids in this school,” Cooper said. “What about the school? What is the emergency protocol? What happens if there is an accident or a problem?”

All good questions that she said neither Watson administration nor the schools Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) are answering to her satisfaction.

“I’ve been getting the runaround the whole time.”

Kinder Morgan posted a message about pipeline safety and schools on its website a year ago.

“Living or being active near our pipeline does not pose a health risk,” the message said, in part.

“Where the pipeline runs near schools, we are open to working with individual schools or districts to fully support their safety efforts and ensure their emergency response plans and ours are co-ordinated.”

Retired Unsworth elementary teacher Wendy Major is part of a working group backed by the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) looking to get the word out about the route of the pipeline.

The group has “red-flagged” four schools in Chilliwack as being within 200 metres of the pipeline and a further 15 that are “black-flagged” as “within blocks” of the route.

The other two close schools include Unsworth and John Calvin elementary, and where the route crosses Tyson Road is pretty close to 200 metres away from Mt. Slesse.

Major has helped to organize a free public meeting at Sardis secondary on Thursday to discuss the pipeline and the safety hazards if there were ever to be a spill.

“Spills from [diluted bitumen] pipelines like the one running through our community have proven to have serious negative impacts to the health of other afflicted communities, particularly on the children,” Major said in a press release.

While the existing pipeline runs under Watson’s sports field, and the company says it wants to use the existing right-of-way wherever possible for the second line, recently proposed routing changes shows Watson would be avoided.

The changed route through that portion of Sardis would run along the hydro right-of-way avoiding not only the elementary school but also the backyards of homes on Roseberry and Montcalm.

Interestingly for residents of Popkum, another routing change shows a section previously to run near Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park north of the highway has been changed to follow the original pipeline corridor south of the highway.

This would mean it would run through the northwest corner of Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, a park that didn’t exist when the Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1952.

• The meeting is Thursday, June 5 at 7 p.m. at Sardis secondary’s MacAstocker Theatre.

For details on the project from Kinder Morgan including a link to an interactive routing map visit www.transmountain.com. And for information on other schools near the pipeline between Hope and Burnaby visit www.pipe-up.net.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sheriff Avory Chapman was last seen Jan. 20 on Wellington Avenue in Chilliwack. (RCMP)
RCMP look for missing man last seen in downtown Chilliwack

21-year-old Sheriff Avory Chapman has been missing since Jan. 20

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Recently elected NDP MLA Kelli Paddon is funding three $500 scholarships for students demonstrating a commitment to equity and social change. (Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon funding Equity and Social Change Scholarships

One of the scholarships is open to any graduating student in the Chilliwack-Kent electoral district

Paid parking returns to Harrison from May 15 to Sept. 15. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)
Harrison pay parking to arrive May 15, parking master plan in the works

The village will be looking at parking for the community as a whole in the new plan

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane towed across Chilliwack over weekend

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rose Sawka, 91, waves to her son through the window of a care home in Prince Rupert in October. Residents of the care home received their first vaccine dose Jan. 20. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
B.C. care home visitor access to expand by March, Dix says

Staff, residents, essential visitors top priorities for vaccine

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Most Read