Meet Lexa Hobenshield, External Relations Manager

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It’s Lexa Hobenshield’s job to make sure the people who live and work in communities along the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project route are informed about the proposed Project and have a chance to ask questions and provide input. We asked Lexa to tell us more about her role and why it’s so important to engage with stakeholders along the proposed expansion route.

What’s your background and how long have your worked for Kinder Morgan Canada (KMC)?

I was raised in rural northwestern BC where my family was in the logging industry and have lived in the Lower Mainland since moving to Burnaby to attend SFU as a teenager. I never dreamed I’d make a career helping to make responsible decisions about industry.

I’ve been with Kinder Morgan Canada since 2007 and have had a connection to the Trans Mountain pipeline for quite a bit longer. As a young man, my dad worked to clear the pipeline right-of-way in the early 1950s near Kamloops. I learned so much from my dad. He had an amazing work ethic and was a great listener. In my office, I keep a photo of him on an old D8 Cat while working on the pipeline to remind me of my roots.

What is your connection to the communities the proposed Project will impact?

I now make my home in the Lower Mainland and enjoy what the region has to offer. Many of our stakeholders are neighbours I see at the grocery store, at school pickup and drop-off and at events in the community.

What do you do on the Project and why?

I’m responsible for engagement on our proposed expansion between Hope and Burnaby, BC. It’s my job to ensure stakeholders have information about our plans, have the opportunity to ask questions and can provide their input. I make sure their feedback is considered in our decision making.

I get a lot of satisfaction out of building relationships, based on trust and credibility. I like to meet new people and learn about their interests. It’s very rewarding to know that a community member has put their trust in me to take their concerns back to the Project team, and that their interests will be considered in making decisions about the Project.

I am proud to be an employee of a company that cares.

Why does collecting feedback matter and how does it change a project?

Providing the opportunity for input to those who will be impacted by the Project is a critical part of responsible resource development. Decisions about the Project must balance a number of sometimes complicated factors – including technical and social considerations.

Responsible resource development means listening to community members where our Project will have an impact and modifying our plans where practical. We are neighbours in communities along the line – considering input is the right thing to do.

Have changes happened in your region in response to feedback?

The input and feedback we have gathered has created a stronger, safer and more responsive Project. Examples of the changes resulting in response to feedback and concerns include:

  • A proposed increase in isolation valves on the pipeline, from 94 to 126, resulting in a significant reduction of potential spill volumes
  • An increase in pipeline wall thickness in high consequence areas, such as urban locations and at river crossings
  • Routing of the pipeline to avoid 22 river crossings at significant fish bearing rivers such as the Fraser River, upper North Thompson, Albreda, Coldwater and Coquihalla River
  • Routing to avoid environmentally sensitive areas such as Cheam Wetlands
  • Avoid adjacent neighbourhoods and minimize community impact in Burnaby by using a tunnel route option through Burnaby Mountain
  • As a result of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project there will be $100 million invested in WCMRC to enhance spill response capabilities along the tanker route, double the response capacity, cut federal response time planning standards in half for the southern shipping route, five new response bases and up to 100 new jobs created

What would you consider a success for consultation?

Our engagement efforts will be successful when we know that those who live near the Trans Mountain Expansion Project over the next 60 years have had a say in how the Project was developed.

In addition to creating a better Project through listening and responding to the input from local communities, we are also leaving lasting benefits behind in communities in recognition of the temporary impacts our Project will have during construction.

I believe this will add to the overall success and benefits of the Project.

What else would you like the public to know about Trans Mountain?

Our employees are proud of the work they do and are proud to show you around their facility. We are proud to bring our sons and daughters to work. We have instances of two and three generations working for Trans Mountain. 

  • J. I. Sullivan

    Could you please answer my one simple question: why on earth should I, as a BC resident, be in favour of a project that would install a great, hulking pipeline in my neighbourhood (along with the permanent risk of enormous leak) and would add huge tankers (along with the risk of enormous spill that who would have to clean up?), to crowd my coastal waters, with the sole purpose of transporting Alberta’s oil to China for a better price? A few extra long-tem jobs? Pocket change in royalties? Compare that to the extraordinary costs of repairing damage to my house and property.

    • Thank you for your questions.

      The Trans Mountain Pipeline has operated safely for more than 60 years and there’s nothing more important than the safety of our neighbours and the communities where our pipeline and terminals operate.

      Pipeline safety is our number one priority and we are committed to being a good corporate citizen by incorporating responsible business practices and conducting our operations in an ethical manner. One of our corporate policies is to improve pipeline and facility integrity to protect the safety of the public, the environment and our employees. Through the experience gained during 60+ years of operations, Trans Mountain has developed a mature suite of programs to maximize the safety of the pipeline. You can learn more about pipeline safety here:

      Trans Mountain has loaded marine vessels with petroleum since 1956 without a single spill from tanker operations. Trans Mountain has proposed recommendations to enhance the existing, extensive marine safety regime in conjunction with the proposed expansion. Working closely with multiple organizations to develop and maintain emergency preparedness and prevention strategies for Westridge Marine Terminal keeps our waters safe. You can learn more about marine safety here:

      By increasing Canada’s capacity to get resources to market, federal and provincial governments will see $18.5 billion in revenues over the first 20 years of operations.The Conference Board of Canada estimates, the Project, if approved, would also generate 678,000 person-years of employment over the same 20 year period. That works out to an average of almost $1 billion in economic activity and nearly 34,000 jobs annually for 20 years. You can read the Conference Board of Canada’s full report here:

      • J. I. Sullivan

        OK, so the federal and provincial governments will get $18.5 billion in revenue over 20 years. That’s $9 hundred million a year. So, if a spill costs $1 billion, like the Enbridge cleanup in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, who will pay? How much have you set aside for pollution liability?

        • Lauren Rowe

          In Canada, liability and compensation for ship-source oil spill pollution are governed by the Canada Shipping Act and the Marine Liability Act. Up to approximately $1.3 billion is available for an individual spill from a number of sources. Both Canada’s and the international conventions are based on the principle of ‘polluter pays.’ You can find more detailed information on spill liability here:

        • J. I. Sullivan

          No answer from TransMountain. Jeepers, that makes me that much more confident in the TransMountain scheme. The vast profit will go to US shareholders, ie. Richard Kinder.

      • J. I. Sullivan

        “The Trans Mountain Pipeline has operated safely for more than 60 years
        and there’s nothing more important than the safety of our neighbours and
        the communities where our pipeline and terminals operate.” That’s TransMountain. You’re Kinder Morgan. Please offer your spill record.

      • J. I. Sullivan

        Ah yes, but give us your spill record for the short time that Kinder Morgan has been running the show here.

    • John Babcock

      Mr Sullivan….you could always support buying gas/ oil/ oil products from Saudi Arabia. Let them spend their profit on what they want- including ISIS and ISIL. Of course, the jobs that they have to send their children to university- while we are starving for jobs. Don’t forget the pollution that they will produce there that will eventually come over us- our oil is cleaner and our refinery process is much better. Don’t forget the tanker’s pollution also……a lot more than any pipeline. And the money that the Saudis give to our gov’t- instead of Kinder Morgan giving it to our gov’t- is in your imagination.

      All spills from any tanker will eventually reach our shores, but we have better clean up equipment and procedures.

      But you could protest about the high tension wires, gas lines going to houses, the sewer lines. How about those big hulking buildings and shopping plazas? The subdivisions?

  • J. I. Sullivan

    Mr. Babcock, thank you for replying. You’re right. Kinder Morgan’s new pipeline would offer jobs, but only to put the new pipeline in. Then, just a few long term jobs to monitor and manage the pipeline. That’s significant temporary employment, for ongoing enormous risk of disaster from a land spill. Even worse, the enormous tankers will be privately owned. If one leaks and fills Vancouver harbour with bitumen, Kinder Morgan has no responsibility for the mess, once the tanker leaves the dock. It will be our mess, and we have to pay.

    The whole point of this Expansion is to get Alberta’s oil to Asia for a better price. All BC gets, the middle man to get the bitumen to the water, is vastly increased horrible risk, some temporary jobs and what pocket change Kinder Morgan can think of to lure us into agreeing. What’s wrong with applying all these jim-dandy safety and maintenance programs to the existing pipeline?