Would You Buy A Home Near A Pipeline?

I wouldn’t and a large number of Canadians feel the same way. 

The fear of a leak and underlying concerns about the long term safety of local water and ecosystem make living by the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline a less than appealing proposition for thousands of local residents in Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Abbotsford and beyond.  

As one friend recently described it, “Since we don’t benefit from the pipeline directly, the one saving grace is that it might create affordable real estate in Metro Vancouver.” While finding a solution to the lack of affordable housing in Metro Vancouver is essential, I don’t believe the answer lies in allowing environmentally and economically questionable activities to drive down local property values to create new affordability ‘ghettos’.

But what are the economic benefits of a new pipeline? Unfortunately, information on the benefits of the project for the lower mainland are scarce, but proponents suggest it will bring jobs and tax revenue.

On the negative side, a new report released by Conversations for Responsible Economic (CRED), summarizes eight recent case studies where property values fell up to 40% after an oil spill. Losses that in BC would amount to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per household.

While it’s obvious that the economic cost of a spill would be disastrous to all levels of society, including to local real estate, I believe we will see the economic effects on local real estate and communities well before we see a spill.

In recent polling conducted by Angus Reid and commissioned by New Democratic Party MP Kennedy Stewart, 43% of Canadians said they wouldn’t even consider purchasing a home within 500 meters of a pipeline due to those concerns. Only 10% indicated it would have “no effect” on their decision making.

The concern was even stronger in Greater Vancouver where 45% respondents said they would rule out the possibility of buying the property, 23% said it would be an important factor in their decision making, 15% said it would have some effect but wouldn’t be a major factor, and only 7% indicated it would have no effect on their decision making.

I describe my work as sustainable real estate. As this is not a term people are familiar with I am often asked to define it.  Broadly speaking, sustainable real estate can take many forms.  Sustainable real estate choices reflect our values and our lifestyles, they sustain us, our community and our planet socially, economically and environmentally for years to come.  Non-sustainable land use includes policies and industrial infrastructure that threatens the economic, social and environmental health of local people and our sustaining ecosystems.”  For instance, putting a pipeline through a major metropolitan area is to be a non-sustainable choice, socially, environmentally and probably economically.

As local residents we need to remind ourselves that a spill in Metro Vancouver would threaten our health, our environment, and our economic future. Even just the potential of a spill could drive down local property values.  With huge economic risks and minimal local gains we need to stand together and oppose this project with sound social, environmental and economic arguments because reason is on our side.

Thank you CRED for your important new report, I hope it leads to more in depth analysis about the true costs of pipeline expansion.



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