OTTAWA – The federal government is delaying its decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project until June 18 so it has more time to complete consultations with Indigenous groups.
The National Energy Board endorsed an expansion of the pipeline on Feb. 22, starting the clock on a 90-day period for Ottawa to make a final call.
That established May 22 as the original deadline.
Consultation teams continue to meet with potentially impacted Indigenous groups, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said in a statement.
“This process includes engaging in meaningful, two-way dialogue – to discuss and understand priorities of the groups our teams meet and to offer responsive accommodations, where appropriate,” he said.
“I also continue to build relationships with Indigenous groups, and I want to thank them for their time and such thoughtful conversations.”
Construction of the pipeline expansion was put on hold last year after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled the board failed to consider marine impacts and the government needed to do more Indigenous consultation.
The government remains committed to doing “things differently” on the project and moving the process forward with guidance from the Federal Court of Appeal, Sohi said.
“This means ensuring that consultations are not only meaningful, but also open and transparent,” he said.
The NEB report in February made 16 new recommendations for the government, including implementing measures to reduce ferry noise, adding incentives and establishing requirements for quiet vessel design.