We have put together this guidance to help business owners who will be directly affected by the Trans Mountain proposal navigate the process of applying to participate in the National Energy Board hearings.
Please note: we, like many of you, are still learning how recent changes to the NEB process will impact public participation. We are not federal process experts and we can’t guarantee how the NEB will decide who can participate and who cannot. However, to the best of our knowledge, this guidance will give you the greatest chance of navigating the application process.
What is the NEB process all about?
On December 16th, while most of us were preparing for the holidays, Kinder Morgan was hard at work submitting a 15,000 page application to the National Energy Board.
This means that the decision-making process on the Trans Mountain pipeline proposal is now active and the clock is ticking.On January 15, the National Energy Board (NEB) opened up applications for people who want to take part in the hearings. This will be the only opportunity for residents of BC to voice concerns, ask questions directly to Kinder Morgan or state opinions to the NEB.
Should I apply to take part?
If you are an entrepreneur or business owner with property along the pipeline or tanker route OR working in a sector likely to be impacted by a spill, then we encourage you to apply to take part.
You also have the right to participate in the process if you are personally affected – for example if you live near the proposed pipeline right-of-way, you can see tanker traffic from your house or your child’s school is near the proposed pipeline route.
At the end of the day, this decision will likely come down to economics. Because of this, the National Energy Board will be interested to hear from local businesses on whether the pipeline would be an overall positive or negative influence on your sector.
So far, most of the business groups expected to participate in the process are supportive of the proposal. This means that if you have concerns, your voice is especially important.
How might my sector be directly affected?
Based on evidence from spills in other places, we believe that the sectors most likely to be directly affected by a spill include:
- Marine-based businesses
- Tourism and hospitality
- Real estate
- Small businesses of all stripes located near pipeline or tanker routes
- Film, tech & other sectors that benefit from the region’s natural beauty and the ‘greenest city’ brand of Vancouver
A spill along the pipeline route or in the Salish Sea would impact the local economy in many ways – from decreasing property values to dampening tourism and changing the brand of Beautiful BC. A major spill could impact tens of thousands of jobs and cost $10 billion to clean up.
Marine tourism operators and those working in other marine-based sectors depend on the health of Burrard Inlet and the surrounding shoreline for the success of your businesses.
If you work in tourism or hospitality, your business would certainly be impacted by a change in the volume of visitors coming to Vancouver. You may also be dependent on the brand of the city as a desirable tourist destination. Studies show that environmental disasters can significant impact the tourism sector as a whole for several years.
For a realtor, a spill might impact your ability to run your business because of lowered home sales and/or home values. Evidence from spills in other locations indicates that this is a real and proven risk.
If you work in the film & TV sector, the natural landscape of greater Vancouver is likely essential to your industry, as is the ability to attract big budget projects to the area.
For those working in tech / clean tech, the brand of “beautiful BC” and ”Vancouver the greenest city” might be essential to your ability to recruit and retain qualified staff and to attract clients.
What is the deadline to apply?
The cut-off date is February 12th at noon.
All applications must be in by this point to be considered. After this date, there will be no more opportunities to participate in the process.
Should I apply as a commenter or intervenor?
We recommend that you apply as an intervenor. This is because the NEB has indicated that it does not heavily weight the opinions given in letters of comment.
Once you are accepted as an intervenor, you can decide how involved you want to be – you could attend the hearings yourself or join a coalition and be represented without spending your time or resources to take part directly.
If I apply, will I be on record as opposing the proposal?
Not necessarily. When you submit the intervenor application, you DO NOT need to state your opinion. You simply need to indicate how you would be directly affected by the pipeline or tanker traffic.
Some business owners are applying as intervenors to state their support for the project because they hope to supply goods or services to Kinder Morgan during the construction phase. Others are applying to take part because they want to see stronger safety regulations in place or higher insurance in the case of a spill. And still others are applying because the oppose the proposed pipeline.
Please note that your application will be made public on the NEB website, so you should only supply information that you are comfortable being made public.
How much of my time will this take?
As much or as little as you’d like. The application itself will take only a few minutes to fill out, once you’ve thought about how you are directly affected.
After applying to intervene, you have several options on how to participate. You can attend the hearings directly, join a responsible business coalition and be represented by other intervenors (i.e. CRED), or back out altogether. You do not need to decide straight away how to proceed – but you only have these options open to you if you apply to take part. Once you have a seat at the table, you can decide what to do with it.
I’m ready to apply. How do I go about it?
How to apply: STEP-BY-STEP GUIDANCE
Create an NEB account
This step is, surprisingly, the least straightforward part of the process, so we recommend that you read over these steps carefully:
- Go to the NEB website
- Click the “GCKey Log In” button. Note: You DO NOT need to log in through your bank or have an existing government ID to register
- Click the “register for a new GC Key” link
- Follow the instructions to create an account
Fill out the application
On your NEB home page, you should see Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project and a button that says “apply to participate”. This will take you into the application. Step 1: Choose whether to apply as a group or an individual. We recommend that you apply as an individual, but you can also apply on behalf of your company if you would prefer. In this case, your businesses’ name will be part of the application. Step 2: Hearing information (no action needed – just click ‘next’)
Step 3: Guidance from the NEB on how to apply (no action needed – just click ‘next’)
Step 4: Privacy agreement – tick the boxes and click ‘next’
Step 5: Enter in your personal contact information
Step 6: Authorized representative (no action needed unless you have a lawyer who will be representing you – just click ‘next’)
Step 7: Choose how you want to participate. Here it’s important to click intervenor and not commenter, since the NEB has essentially said that they do not see letters of comment as important. Step 8: Explain why you are entitled to take part. Select “I am directly affected by the proposed Project”. If you can prove that you or your business is directly affected, the NEB must allow you to participate. Step 9: Explain how you are directly affected. Select as many of the list of issues as apply directly to you. Only tick the boxes where you are confident you can prove you have an interest.
We recommend ticking boxes 4, 5 and 11. (We suggest you include #11 so that you can give your perspective on the insurance or other compensation that should be available to local business owner to cover loss of economic activity arising from a spill.)
If your business or home property is along or near the pipeline or tanker route, you can also tick box 10. Now the most important part: explain in 500 words or less why you are directly affected. We recommend giving as detailed an explanation as possible. You might want to include:
How you contribute to the local economy:
- You are a local business owner/ entrepreneur working in _______ sector
- Information on the amount of employment you generate and how much tax revenues you contribute to different levels of government.
- If you have this information, you could also note the number of jobs & wealth your sector as a whole creates across the province
How you would be affected by a spill. For example:
- You are a realtor and a spill would impact your ability to run your business because of lowered home sales and/or home values. Evidence from spills in other locations indicates that this is a real and proven risk.
- You work in the film & TV sector and the natural landscape of greater Vancouver is essential to your industry, as is the ability to attract big budget projects
- You work in tech / clean tech and the brand of “beautiful BC” and ”Vancouver the greenest city” is essential to your ability to attract and retain qualified staff and to attract clients
- You work in tourism or hospitality and your business would be impacted by a change in the volume of visitors coming to Vancouver. You are also dependent on the brand of the city as a desirable tourist destination. (Studies show that environmental disasters can significant impact the tourism sector as a whole for several years.)
- You are a marine tourism operator and depend on the health of Burrard Inlet and the surrounding shoreline for the success of your business
If applicable, make sure to include how your business location is located near the pipeline or tanker traffic route.
Step 11: Review and submit. Once you have submitted your application, all information is final so make sure you are happy with everything you’ve written before you click “submit”
Congratulations – you’re done!
You can see a real-time list of completed applications on the NEB website document archives.