The political transition in British Columbia is continuing to take shape, with NDP Leader John Horgan instructing BC Hydro not to sign new contracts or evict residents to make way for the Site C dam, and deep uncertainty swirling around Kinder Morgan’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline.
On Thursday, Horgan wrote to Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald, asking the government-owned utility not to take any irrevocable action until a new government is in place.
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“I write to you today to express my concern regarding impacts on the community of Bear Flat, the West Moberly First Nation, the Prophet River First Nation, and other families and communities impacted by the government’s decision to expropriate lands for the advancement of Site C,” he wrote.
While a one-month extension in residents’ eviction notices, to June 30, was “a welcome respite,” he added, “I believe there is no demonstrated short-term need to force these families from their homes, and because the status of the next governments of British Columbia is uncertain, the threat of imminent removal of residents from their expropriated homes and property is unreasonable.”
He also instructed BC Hydro not to finalize any new contracts unless they include penalty-free cancellation clauses.
Kinder Morgan, meanwhile, saw its initial share offering squeak through to a successful conclusion last week. “It got done but it wasn’t pretty,” said Wood Mackenzie analyst Peter Agiris, after the stock fell more than 7% from its initial share price of $17. In addition to the grassroot opposition and political uncertainty surrounding the project, Kinder’s “plan to use the proceeds of the IPO of its Canadian division to pay down the parent company’s debt was not well received by the market,” the Financial Post reports, citing portfolio manager Rafi Tahmazian of Canoe Financial.
Barron’s financial journal declared Kinder its biggest loser in a May 30 assessment. The company hit the bottom of the Standard & Poors 500 index, while analysts at Wolfe Research downgraded the stock due to the many uncertainties surrounding the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
But despite the mounting opposition to his project, Kinder Morgan CEO Ian Anderson maintained he would make no future concessions to the next B.C. government to get his pipeline built. “I’m not foreseeing any difficulty in the construction start this fall,” he said.
Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid, writing in the Vancouver Sun, said Alberta could still have a few tricks up its sleeve if a new Green Party-backed NDP minority government in B.C. stands firm against Trans Mountain.
“The first step would be to stop shipments through the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline to the B.C. Interior and Lower Mainland,” he wrote. “Almost 90% of the fuel for Vancouver and the southern coast comes out of that pipeline, either as gasoline or crude to be refined. Kinder Morgan is also a major supplier of gasoline to Kamloops and the wider interior. In a separate operation, the company pipes jet fuel to Vancouver Airport.”
So “imagine the progress if all that was cut off—car-free streets, silent skies, parked transport trucks, happy strolls to pick up the kids and the groceries. Such a blessing!”