'Keep the planes on the ground': Richmond councillor vows to fight airport fuel supply line

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A Richmond city councillor says it's "time to keep the planes on the ground" at the ever-growing Vancouver airport, and that he plans to fight his colleagues' approval of a new pipeline to supply the facility with more jet fuel.

Tensions were high Monday as councillors expressed their frustration at a jet fuel pipeline from southeast Richmond to the airport and a tank farm on the Fraser River being proposed by a consortium of airlines, the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie pointed out that nobody on council wanted the pipeline, but he was willing to support the agreement to access some Richmond roadways because it would bring significant benefits to the city and, also, because of legal advice that a rejection would most likely be over-ridden in the courts.

Near the end of the meeting, when dealing with the development permit for the marine terminal and tank farm, Brodie said if he could, he’d vote against it.

“I see that there are people here from the airport and VAFFC here tonight and I hope you carry that message back to wherever you came from,” he said, adding that council didn’t want the project in Richmond.

Coun. Harold Steves said the pipeline issue had left a bad taste, because council was told at the beginning of the process they couldn’t offer any other solutions while he contended there would have been other options.

“With this going ahead, I will guarantee you, I will fight every step of the way,” Steves said.

“If you plan to fly a new plane out of that airport or do any airport expansion, it’s time to keep the planes on the ground.”

The Vancouver airport saw record-breaking traffic in 2018 — 25.9 million passengers, a milestone it says came two years earlier than expected.

The airport's operations accounts for $8.4 billion to the provincial GDP, and $1.4 billion in government revenues.