Westridge Marine Terminal, Burrard Inlet

Westridge Marine Terminal, Burrard Inlet

by | Apr 30, 2022

Westridge Marine Terminal is located at the Burnaby Terminal on the south shore of Burrard Inlet, the western endpoint of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, about 7 miles (11 km) northwest of New Westminster and 5.3 miles (8.5 km) east of Vancouver in Burnaby, British Columbia. The Burnaby Terminal is a distribution point for crude oil to the Parkland oil refinery and the Westridge Marine Terminal. The facility is situated on a wedge of Pleistocene glacial and glaciomarine sediments. These sediments overlie older alluvial and deltaic sediments of the Burrard Formation deposited during the Eocene period in a subsiding forearc basin extending from Burrard Inlet to the north and Bellingham to the south. The Eocene rocks overlie Late Cretaceous alluvial sediments of the Nanaimo Group, a rock formation widely distributed around the Strait of Georgia, which overlies granitic rocks of the Coast Mountains Batholith. During the Pleistocene, the south coast of British Columbia was covered by glacier ice flowing south and southwest from centers of ice accumulation in the Coast Mountains. These glaciers profoundly altered the landscape of the region by erosion and sediment deposition. The glaciers removed much of the Late Cretaceous and Eocene sedimentary fill in the Georgia Basin and deposited the thick unconsolidated sediment sequence that mantles Tertiary rocks in the Fraser and Puget Lowlands. The most recent glacial period was the Fraser Glaciation about 30,000 to 11,000 years ago. Since this Last Glacial Maximum, the glaciers retreated and the Fraser River advanced its floodplain and delta westward across the Fraser Lowland and into the Strait of Georgia. During the initial period of deglaciation, the relative sea level was about 660 feet (200 m) higher than at present. Subsequent post-glacial rebound caused the rapid emergence of coastal lowlands in the vicinity of Vancouver. About 8,000 years ago the relative sea level was about 40 feet (12 m) lower than at present. A sea-level incursion began about 7,000 years ago triggering the aggradation and current geomorphology of the Fraser River floodplain east of present-day Vancouver.

The lowlands of the Fraser River floodplain are the traditional home of several Coast Salish-speaking First Nation peoples and many villages lined the shores of Burrard Inlet. The southern shore of Burrard Inlet near the present-day Westridge Marine Terminal was mostly inhabited by the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. Family lineage and kinship were the most important aspect of tribal identity, and they determined where people could live, hunt and fish, and what types of knowledge and special privileges were inherited. Early European explorers and fur traders introduced diseases that devastated the First Nation peoples and smaller communities began to consolidate into larger villages for protection. During the first half of the 19th century, depopulation by diseases made the Coast Salish people vulnerable to slave raids and internecine warfare by the Lekwiltok, today known as the Kwakwakaʼwakw, from Johnstone Strait on the east coast of Vancouver Island. In 1858, the Fraser River gold rush prompted the British government to create the Colony of British Columbia. The British claimed control of the land and the inhabitants. Colonial officials and Royal Engineers soon arrived from England to establish New Westminster as the colony’s capital. Settlers were encouraged to claim title to land through a process called pre-emption. In colonial and later provincial law, pre-emption allowed people to claim land and file for ownership after clearing trees and building homes. In the 1880s, the Canadian Pacific Railway was extended from Port Moody at the head of Burrard Inlet to Vancouver which made the land more accessible. Land speculators and businessmen bought property near the railway, and a few settlers established family farms on the outskirts of New Westminster. The City of Burnaby was established in 1891 and named after Robert Burnaby, who was a Freemason, explorer, and legislator. He was previously private secretary to Colonel Richard Moody, the first land commissioner for the Colony of British Columbia.

Burnaby is located at the geographical center of the Metro Vancouver area and occupies 24,320 acres (9,842 ha) between the city of Vancouver to the west and Port Moody, Coquitlam, and New Westminster to the east. Burnaby is further bounded by Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south. A refinery was established here in 1935 by Standard Oil of California as one of the few heavy industries in the area. A major expansion took place in the mid-1950s as part of the post-war building boom in British Columbia. In 1947, large oil deposits were discovered in Alberta and in 1951 the Trans Mountain Pipeline Company was created to build an oil pipeline to the Burnaby refinery. Ownership of the pipeline company was split between Canadian Bechtel Ltd. and Standard Oil and the pipeline was completed in 1953. In 2004, Kinder Morgan Inc. began an expansion project to add a second pipeline, running parallel to the first, which was completed in 2008. Kinder Morgan is a leading pipeline transportation and energy storage company and owns or operates approximately 84,000 miles (135,200 km) of pipelines transporting primarily natural gas, crude oil, and petroleum products. In 2013, Kinder Morgan filed an application to the Canadian National Energy Board to build another pipeline roughly parallel to the existing Trans Mountain, for transporting diluted bitumen from Edmonton, Alberta. This expansion would enable the export of larger volumes of Alberta’s controversial bituminous sands oil to the U.S. and Asian countries. In 2018, the Trans Mountain pipeline was purchased by the Government of Canada through Trans Mountain Corporation, a subsidiary of the federal Crown corporation Canada Development Investment Corporation. Trans Mountain is currently expanding the Westridge Marine Terminal with three berths at a new dock complex. The new terminal complex will increase loading capacity from one to three Aframax-size oil tankers. See a short video of the marine terminal expansion here. Read more here and here. Explore more of Westridge Marine Terminal and Burrard Inlet here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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