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UPDATED: Trans Mountain pipeline gets provincial EA approval

Russell Hixson
UPDATED: Trans Mountain pipeline gets provincial EA approval
B.C. Premier Christy Clark recently announced provincial approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project after reaching an agreement with Kinder Morgan for up to $1 billion in investment over 20 years. -

Industry stakeholders are applauding news that the Province of B.C. has issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) certificate for the B.C. portion of the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

"Workers in B.C. will be first-in-line for the thousands of jobs, skills training and apprenticeship opportunities in communities across British Columbia that will flow from this project," said Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) vice-president Chris Gardner.

A joint statement by Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman said the EA certificate issued for the project was done so with the "understanding that all inter-provincial pipelines are under federal jurisdiction. We have looked at areas where we can improve the project by adding conditions that will build upon those already established by the federal government."

The Environmental Assessment Office recommended 37 new conditions be attached to address concerns raised by communities and aboriginal groups during its consultation, the statement reads.

"We have agreed to all 37 conditions, ensuring the project meets the high standards we demand in British Columbia," the ministers stated.

The pair also said the conditions attached will make sure ongoing consultation with First Nations occurs and provides further protection of wetlands, wildlife habitat and caribou and grizzly populations. The conditions are all legally enforceable and will help to minimize or avoid altogether potential issues within areas of provincial interest, a release reads.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the green light to the $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan project in November saying it is expected to create 15,000 new jobs during construction by twinning the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C. It will also provide access to global markets and generate $4.5 billion in federal and provincial government revenues, he added.

His approval is subject to 157 binding conditions.

Gardner called B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s five conditions a rigorous approval framework for the project to meet.

"The pipeline will be built in a way that protects the environment, ensures that indigenous communities are participating and provides B.C. with its fair share of the economic benefits," said Gardner.

He explained getting B.C.’s natural resources to global markets is a key driver of economic growth and prosperity. This project will be one of the largest private sector investments ever made in the province.

"This sends a strong signal to investors that B.C. is a place where you can do business," Gardner added. A recent ICBA sponsored poll showed that 84 per cent of British Columbians support responsible resource development.

"The silent majority of British Columbians understand that developing our resources in a sustainable way creates jobs not only in construction but in almost every other sector of the economy," he said.

Over the past year, the ICBA received strong support for responsible resource development and other infrastructure projects through its Growing the Economy campaign.

As part of the campaign, the ICBA encouraged both the federal and provincial governments to get to "Yes" on the Trans Mountain expansion project.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade also applauded the province’s decision and was particularly impressed with the agreement between the province and Kinder Morgan, which will see the company pay upwards of $1 billion to the province over the next 20 years. That money will be re-invested by the province in environmental initiatives and handed out to community groups working to keep B.C.’s shorelines clean.

"This is a big win for British Columbia," said Iain Black, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. "The provincial government engaged in this process in a way that has never been done before, setting out principled objectives and establishing five conditions to ensure that B.C.’s coasts are protected and our economy is strengthened. Those conditions have led to a $1-billion investment that will benefit British Columbians across the province for the next two decades."

The board has been an advocate for the project for several years, citing the project’s economic benefits for B.C. and Canada.

"Here in Greater Vancouver alone, the project is expected to generate more than a billion dollars in construction spending, create thousands of high-paying jobs and help attract new investment to our region," said Black.

In 2014, the board applied and was granted intervenor status in the National Energy Board regulatory process for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

The board explained it believes that the responsible development of market access for Canadian crude oil is of national importance and stated the current lack of midstream infrastructure has turned Canada into a supplier held captive by the country’s only customer, the United States, which costs the national economy an estimated $50 million dollars each day.

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