Trans Mountain cleared for takeoff
for Petroleum News
Canada’s National Energy Board has given the green light for Trans Mountain to start construction on sections of its pipeline expansion between Alberta and British Columbia at the same time police demolished a protest camp at the line’s terminal site in Vancouver.
The federal regulator said Trans Mountain had met all applicable pre-construction conditions to start work on the link from Edmonton, Alberta, to Kamloops in central British Columbia, noting it had ratified 96 percent of the route on that segment.
The NEB said the company could start clearing a right of way, subject to other government permits and regulations, adding that 72 percent of the entire detailed route has now been approved, leaving two hearings for the final section to take place in October.
With construction on the C$9.3 billion expansion now scheduled to start soon, he Royal Canadian Mounted Police snuffed out a potential flashpoint by enforcing a court injunction to dismantle a protest camp that was established over five months in defiance of local safety and health bylaws.
Camp occupants removedThe RCMP removed 11 occupants from the site, and arrested five who refused to leave, though they were later released.
George Manuel, a spokesman for the Shuswap First Nations, said the evictions will not stop the protest, arguing that the British Columbia Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction over land claimed by indigenous people.
Will George, of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, said the protest camp may have been removed, but “this movement will continue to grow.”
The RCMP said the public will eventually be able to re-enter the camp and resume “peaceful, lawful and safe” protests.
Nearby residents said the eviction was long overdue, with one claiming the community had been “severely impacted by the protesters,” while the local municipality has “aided, abetted and accommodated the protesters over the rest of the neighborhood who are taxpaying citizens.”
He said the residents had been forced to tolerate constant drum-beating and chanting at night, illegal fires in a tinder-dry area and threatening confrontations with camp leaders.
Claim to land an issueIn issuing an injunction, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Gomery said the position the protesters had advanced through the news media was not a valid case for an aboriginal title claim to the land.
He also said the goals of the camp occupants had evolved from simply objection to the Trans Mountain expansion to blocking a public right of way and making members of the public feel unwelcome and culminating in a threat to “kill” a fire official.
Trans Mountain officials and the Canadian government, which is about to acquire ownership of the pipeline system from Kinder Morgan, declined to comment on the enforcement of the injunction.
An organization representing 97,000 Metis (people of mixed aboriginal and European settlers) in Alberta voted in favor of endorsing the pipeline expansion from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 bpd.
President Audrey Poitras said solid economic investment in projects such as pipelines will “provide a better future for our children and grandchildren.”
The Metis Nation of Alberta is one of several indigenous communities that have expressed interest in taking an equity stake in Trans Mountain.
- GARY PARK