British Columbians are split nearly down the middle on whether they support or oppose Kinder Morgan's proposal to twin its existing Trans Mountain pipeline, according to an Insights West poll released January 22.
The online survey found that 48% of B.C. residents support the project, while 43% oppose it. The number of respondents who said they were undecided on the project had risen to 11%, up from 3% in January 2012.
Mario Canseco, vice-president of public affairs at Insights West, said the results spoke to the fact that the pipeline remains a "contentious issue across British Columbia."
Support for the project is strongest in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, where 49% of residents are in favour of the pipeline expansion. On Vancouver Island, that number drops to 36%.
"Residents of Vancouver Island, women and the youngest residents of the province are more likely to look at energy projects with skepticism," Canseco said, noting these results are in line with previous surveys on fracking and the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
Other survey findings include:
- 81% are now aware of the proposed expansion, up from 60% a year ago;
- 48% of B.C. residents support the project, compared with 38% last year; and
- 43% oppose it, compared with 57% a year ago, meaning there are now more in support of the pipeline than in opposition.
The Trans Mountain pipeline runs through Alberta and British Columbia, terminating in Burnaby. The company says the pipeline expansion is needed to increase capacity to meet demand for Alberta's oil.
However opponents fear an increase in the number of oil tankers in Burrard Inlet and an increased risk of environmental damage.
The National Energy Board is currently reviewing Kinder Morgan's application.