As the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) construction continues in Chilliwack, there is one area where there is a looming deadline: school yards.
The existing pipeline and the expanded right-of-way for the TMX runs through the sports fields at Vedder Middle School and Watson Elementary School.
The work may not be entirely complete by September when kids are back in school but the company is aiming to have most of it done.
“In Chilliwack, crews are focusing on construction through the Vedder Middle School and Watson Elementary School sports fields,” according to an emailed statement from Trans Mountain media relations. “Crews will use open-cut construction to install the pipeline through the fields of each location. This work will take place throughout July and August to minimize construction impacts during the school year. Each sports field will be closed to the public during construction.”
The twinning along the historic route prompted the Chilliwack board of education in 2019 to write a letter of opposition to the National Energy Board (NEB). The decision unanimous decision to write that letter came at a September 2019 board meeting. Absent, however, were trustees Heather Maahs and Darrell Furgason who have expressed support for TMX, with Furgason calling opposition “paranoid” and “hysteria.”
The pipeline also runs close to Mt. Slesse middle school and Unsworth elementary, as well as across the city’s protected groundwater zone, an area of the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer, the source of the city’s drinking water.
The pipeline was constructed in 1953 before the schools or much of the surrounding Sardis community was built.
In split decisions, the school board has twice declined offers of cash from Trans Mountain, once in September 2015 and more recently on Feb. 26, 2019.
Trans Mountain has an 18-metre easement along the 1,150-kilometre pipeline that runs from the Alberta oil sands to tidewater in Burnaby. The TMX will require a 42-metre easement so the company, which is owned by the federal government, was offered a $36,000 agreement bonus from Trans Mountain, that on top of the $59,400 for Vedder and $76,950 for Watson if the expansion ever happens.
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