The Canada Energy Regulator has begun its detailed route hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, starting with Alberta locations that are in dispute by property owners and moving to B.C. in the weeks to come.
The first two hearings were held Tuesday in Spruce Grove, with the first B.C. hearing in Kamloops in March and more to come along the expansion route through Merritt and into the Lower Mainland in the months ahead as more hearing orders are issued, a spokesperson for Canada Energy Regulator told Black Press.
“Detailed route hearings are required where an objection to the detailed route exists, and allow the commission to decide on whether the exact location of the pipeline is the best possible, and to confirm the most appropriate methods and timing of construction,” the regulator said in a statement released Tuesday.
“Landowners whose lands are proposed to be crossed by the pipeline, as well as Indigenous groups and other persons whose land may be adversely affected were able to object to the detailed route proposed by Trans Mountain. The commission granted detailed route hearings where material changes in circumstances were identified since 2018, or where hearings had been granted but not completed prior to the court decision stopping the project in 2018.”
The twinning project runs for 1,147 km on a pipeline approximately 150 metres wide. It was re-approved by the federal government in June 2019, after additional consultation required by the Federal Court of Appeal.
Construction is underway along the Alberta portions, as well as the Edmonton and Burnaby terminals and the Westridge Marine Terminal. Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC, the company formed by the Justin Trudeau government to own and operate the 1954 pipeline and its expansion project, submitted its latest construction schedule to the regulator on Jan. 2.
From the Greater Edmonton section, the Trans Mountain right of way goes to Edson, Hinton, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Wabamun before reaching the Jasper-Mount Robson stretch where twinning was completed a decade ago. Entering B.C. in the North Thompson region, the pipeline route goes by Avola, Barriere, Blue River, Clearwater, Valemount and Vavenby, a region where the forest industry has been wound down due to market conditions and loss of lumber to beetle infestations and fires.
From there the Trans Mountain line goes past Kamloops and Merritt, then down the Coquihalla Pass to Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, Coquitlam and Burnaby.