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.

Just Posted

(Adam Louis/Observer)
PHOTOS: Students leap into action in track events at Kent Elementary

At Kent Elementary, when the sun’s outside, the fun’s outside. The intermediate… Continue reading

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

One person was transported to hospital with minor injuries following a two-vehicle crash on Hot Springs Road June 10. (Adam Louis/Observer)
One hurt following two-vehicle crash on Hot Springs Road

Agassiz Fire Department, B.C. Ambulance Service attended with RCMP

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

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

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read