Richmond Review: Give council a voice

April 15, 2010

Richmond Review Editorial

Richmond is becoming an easy case study on why the federal government should be downsized. Vancouver International Airport, and so much that is linked to it, has no one to answer to but Ottawa. Whether it’s a new runway, new terminal, new tank farm or new jet fuel pipeline, our local elected officials have little meaningful control.

This week three city councillors of the Richmond First slate said as much in a press release aimed at highlighting an open house yesterday on a plan from the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation to build a pipeline across Richmond.

Good on councillors Derek Dang, Ken Johnston and Bill McNulty for doing something. It may be political opportunism, but a single press release managed to attract the attention of Vancouver’s major news media.

The VAFFC has appeared before city council a few times to share plans. But it hasn’t listened to council’s objections, deciding to push a plan that would see a 15-kilometre underground pipeline link the airport with a marine terminal on the South Arm of the Fraser River.

City council, the elected body that understands local neighbourhoods the best, can do little but review the marine terminal upgrades.

The fact Richmond council was only brought into the loop last year on a plan that’s been several years in the making speaks volumes.

Richmond council, like most level-headed citizens, understands the airport needs fuel to operate, and that it needs a long-term, sustainable solution for its delivery. It’s simply urging the airline consortium to give other options a fair public review. That, along with ensuring residents will be safe.

So who can Richmond citizens turn to?

Beyond the province’s environmental assessment office, there’s Richmond MP Alice Wong. But given our party-dominated parliamentary system, don’t count on her to be knocking down the transport minister’s door.

Although the project requires approval from both provincial and federal regulators, the later wield the most power. It’s a shame they haven’t included the city in this democracy.

Read the full editorial online at:

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