VANCOUVER -- Premier Christy Clark says the federal government is close to meeting British Columbia's five conditions for its approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and she wants the prime minister to come to the West Coast to explain why his government thinks the project is in the national interest.
Clark said Wednesday her government is still working with Ottawa on spill response and it wants assurances on jobs and the economic benefits for B.C., but believes those issues can be settled well before a provincial election in May.
"The federal government, through its work as the result of our very hard work over the last four-and-a-half years, has come very very close to making sure they meet the five conditions we set out," she said at a news conference in Vancouver.
"I've always said from the very beginning that if the five conditions on any of these projects are met, the project can expect B.C.'s support."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that the project will be approved with 157 conditions. He said he expected the decision to be "bitterly disputed" across the country, but said the project is in Canada's best interests.
The $6.8-billion project would triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline, from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day, and would add 980 kilometres of new pipe along the route from near Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.
It would also increase the number of tankers leaving Vancouver-area waters seven-fold, prompting fierce opposition from local mayors and First Nations who say any risk of a diluted-bitumen spill is unacceptable.
Clark said Trudeau should come to the province to explain to British Columbians directly why his government supports the pipeline expansion.
"It's important that he make that argument, as he did in Ottawa (Tuesday), that he make that argument here in B.C. where so many people are passionate on either side of the project," she said.
Clark said she expects to have the five conditions in place before B.C.'s election in May, when the pipeline is expected to be a major issue.
"I believe we have to find ways to balance resource development and job creation in this country with environmental protection," she said.
B.C.'s five conditions include world-leading marine and land oil spill response and prevention, First Nations participation and opportunity, a fair share of economic benefits and successful environmental reviews.