Mill Woods golf course seeks compensation for summer pipeline LRT work

Golfers take advantage of an unusually warm March day to hit some balls at the Mill Woods Golf Club's driving range on Saturday, March 12, 2016. Cliff Harris/ Global News

The term “burning up the course” will take on new meaning this summer in Mill Woods. ATCO will be on site for a good chunk of the summer, burying deeper natural gas pipelines that need to be lowered because of Valley Line LRT construction.

At some point during the process there will be flaring.

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Joan Kirillo, the business manager with MCARFA, the not-for-profit agency that runs the course in partnership with the city, only found out late last week how extensive the job will be this summer.

“They’re not telling us enough information,” Kirillo told reporters after appearing before city council’s executive committee Tuesday.

“I’ve been working with the city on this since 2012 and I’ve always been told: there’s no relocation of the pipelines.”

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“It wasn’t until somebody sent me an email about moving one of our gates that is on that area that they went, ‘Oh, by the way, the relocation is happening.'”

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City Coun. Mike Nickel was also shocked by the turn of events.

“I know so little about it, that’s my point. I’d like to know because I think my constituents would like to know exactly what they’re doing, when they’re doing it, what mitigation, if any, needs to be done.

“I mean, when you’re flaring a gas line in the middle of a city, wouldn’t you like to know? I would.”

Kirillo has asked for compensation from the Valley Line LRT project since work will begin this month, and she said the email from ATCO indicates the pipeline work will be between July 25 and Aug. 31. A pump house on the corner of the property at 66 Street needs to be moved, which also means pipelines have to be moved as well and buried deeper.

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“Those pipelines have to be lowered. My understanding from the pipeline companies [is that] they have to be lowered because of the vibrations of the train. So they’re lowering them under 66 Street which means directional drilling, which could be okay, but where they’re showing the dig sites it’s right on our No. 3 green, right beside it.”
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She’s been told that compensation will be on a “case-by-case basis.”

“That’s a really good lawyer answer, isn’t it?” she said.

Staff at the course, at the height of golf season in the summer, numbers about 50, Kirillo said.

“As people who are employing people and running businesses to hear, ‘We don’t pay,’ that’s just a standard law answer. Good on them, but we won’t give up.”

“There are 80 golf courses within 20 minutes of Edmonton. If we don’t have a full facility that’s really run properly, people will just go somewhere else.”

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Nickel has asked questions before about performance measures from TransEd, the P-3 consortium building the Valley Line.

“P-3s only work well if there’s good communication between the partners and right now I’m not seeing it.”