Update II: Central British Columbia
The Ministerial Panel on the Proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion continues to hear a broad mix of input on the potential impact of building a dedicated diluted bitumen pipeline from Edmonton to tidewater in Vancouver. In two days of meetings in Kamloops (July 19, 20), attended by almost 150 people, among whom 47 made presentations, the panel heard a mix of supportive comments from business groups and municipal officials and mixed or critical comments from First Nations and members of the public.
As after its first set of meetings in Alberta, the panel identified a set of prominent issues that arose in the Kamloops meetings. The following list is representative, rather than comprehensive, and is intended only to suggest the range and nature of input.
Economic Impacts – Business groups, some municipal and regional government officials and some First Nations spoke to the project’s potential economic benefits, including jobs, taxes and Community Benefit Agreement investments.
Regulatory Certainty – Some proponents suggested that additional review at this stage raises concerns for industry about the predictability and reliability of government regulatory and decision-making processes.
Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain performance – Several presenters spoke favourably about their relationship with Trans Mountain and its employees working in the Central Interior region.
Transportation Safety – Several presenters, including some with misgivings about transporting oil sands products by any mode, noted that pipelines are a safer alternative to rail transportation.
Sensitive Areas – The proposed pipeline route passes through sensitive grasslands, over water courses and through parks, raising site-specific objections – in some cases from presenters who are not opposed to the pipeline per se.
Climate Change – While Alberta presenters raised concerns about climate change, most suggested that a pipeline to tidewater is still required, in part to help Canada finance the transition to renewable energy. In Kamloops, more presenters suggested that Canada’s Paris commitment to reduce national emissions precludes the expansion of conventional energy infrastructure.
Consultation and Reconciliation – First Nations presenters called for greater respect and recognition of Aboriginal rights and title. This includes engaging First Nations early in discussions about how they wish to be consulted and about how best to accommodate their different cultural practices and traditions.
Consultative Capacity – First Nations (and other presenters) complained that a rushed and exclusive National Energy Board process challenged their ability to respond, especially as they received inadequate funding to engage the legal and technical experts necessary to assess and respond to the pipeline proposal.
Environment and Economy – First Nations reaffirmed earlier input that they have legal interests in both jurisdictional aspects (environmental assessment, oversight and response) and economic aspects (potential equity or royalty participation, and/or taxation authority).
Cumulative Impacts – First Nations suggested that the original Trans Mountain pipeline was built without consultation and that title issues raised by the original line should be resolved before the expansion can be considered.
Level of Engagement – Presenters raised questions about the appropriate rights holders with whom government should consult and negotiate: First Nations’ hereditary structures, Band council structures or collective communities. Some suggested that it is unacceptable for government or industry to negotiate agreements with individual First Nations bands rather than resolving issues collectively with Nations whose territories are crossed by the proposed pipeline.
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