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Pipelandia: A timeline of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline

As federal decision on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline looms, Metro asks if B.C.’s “five conditions” are met, and how the project proposal came to be.

A map of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, which mostly follows Kinder Morgan's existing pipeline route from Edmonton, Alta. to Burnaby, B.C.

Courtesy: Trans Mountain Expansion Project

A map of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, which mostly follows Kinder Morgan's existing pipeline route from Edmonton, Alta. to Burnaby, B.C.

The federal government has only until Dec. 19 to make its final decision on a pipeline proposal that has divided British Columbians.

Kinder Morgan’s nearly $7-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal would triple the flow of diluted bitumen oil through an existing pipeline — operating since 1953 — from Alberta’s oil sands to a terminal in Burnaby, increasing oil tanker traffic through the Burrard Inlet seven-fold. Kinder Morgan said the pipeline and marine traffic have a proven safety record over decades.

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Here's a snapshot of the project's history since its founding to the present-day process it hopes can see its greatest expansion yet.

Metro illustration

1953: The original Trans Mountain Pipeline is built from Edmonton to the West Coast.

1957: Four years after the pipeline opened, Westridge Marine Terminal is completed in Burnaby.

1985: Trans Mountain’s biggest spill occurs at a tank farm near Edmonton, releasing 1.6 million litres of oil.

2005: Texas energy giant Kinder Morgan purchases the Trans Mountain Pipeline, adding 1,150 kilometres to its 135,000-kilometre pipeline network across the continent.

2007: A road crew’s excavator breaks the Trans Mountain pipeline in a Burnaby residential suburb, leaking 224,000 litres of crude into the neighbourhood and 70,000 litres into the Burrard Inlet. 250 residents are evacuated.

2010: Kinder Morgan files a National Energy Board application to enter long-term buying contracts and increase Alberta crude and bitumen flow to Burnaby’s Westbridge terminal.

2012: B.C. Premier Christy Clark announces five conditions that must be met for any heavy oil pipeline to gain the province’s support.

2013: Kinder Morgan applies to the NEB to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, increasing the oil flow from 300,000 barrels to 890,000 barrels per day, and increasing oil tanker traffic sevenfold if approved.

2014: The NEB launches public hearings on the proposal, but nearly 500 applicants are rejected, many for not being “directly affected.” The United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous rights warns pipelines risks “social peace” with First Nations. More than 100 protesters are arrested in Burnaby Mountain conservation area, where crews drill in preparation for the project. Burnaby mounts unsuccessful lawsuits against the work.

2015: Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promises increased consultation on pipeline projects as part of his party’s environmental platform ahead of the election, which he wins in October.

May 2016: After a 29-month review, the NEB concludes the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the Canadian public interest. It recommends the federal government approve the proposal, contingent on 157 conditions. Ottawa appoints a Ministerial panel to hold further hearings.

Nov. 29, 2016: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approves Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain proposal.

—with files from The Canadian Press and Metro News

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