More than 1,100 kilometres from Burnaby Mountain, construction is about to begin on the expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline.
Yesterday (December 2), Trans Mountain Corp. – the company that owns the pipeline after the Trudeau government purchased it from Kinder Morgan Canada last year – confirmed for the National Post that there is “pipe on the ground” in Alberta and that crews are ready to get to work.
A dynamic map available at Trans Mountain’s website shows active construction areas around the company’s terminal facilities on the outskirts of Edmonton.
The Post and other outlets have quoted Trans Mountain spokesperson Ali Hounsell stating that the first sections of the expanded pipeline should be under the ground before Christmas (December 25).
The pipeline runs from Edmonton—where it receives diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands—to a port in Burnaby. Its expansion will triple the amount of bitumen transported to the Lower Mainland, increasing the number of oil tankers moving through Burrard Inlet from some 60 ships per year to more than 400.
Legal challenges have delayed the project. The Trudeau government purchased the pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada for $4.5 billion in August 2018. In August 2019, the National Energy Board (NEB) said construction could resume.
The Financial Post previously reported that Kinder Morgan was preparing to begin construction work on several sections of the pipeline in B.C. Those preparations included stockpiling pipe in the B.C. towns of Vavenby, Hope, and Kamloops.
While construction might soon be underway, the pipeline’s legal challenges continue. The Federal Court of Appeal is still reviewing an appeal filed by Indigenous groups that challenges the NEB’s August 2019 approval of the project.
The project is popular in Alberta but in B.C., grassroots opposition continues.
Protesters regularly convene near the pipeline’s Westridge marine terminal in Burnaby. They maintain that Canada cannot meet its obligations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions if the pipeline’s expansion goes ahead. In addition, opponents, including many of the Lower Mainland’s mayors, have argued that the project will bring an unacceptable risk of an oil spill in the Burrard Inlet.