August 31, 2017 5:33 pm
Updated: August 31, 2017 8:07 pm

Detailed route hearings announced for Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

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It looks like there won’t be any September start — at least as far as laying B.C. pipeline goes — for the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

The National Energy Board (NEB) says it’s kicking off detailed route hearings for the pipeline’s first two Alberta segments in November. No date has been set for those hearings in B.C.

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NEB Chief Environment Officer Robert Steedman said construction west of the Rockies will begin on a segment by segment basis as hearings are completed.

“So certainly on the lines where, the pieces of the line where they don’t have final detailed route approved, if they haven’t cleared all the pre-construction conditions, and they don’t have all the other permits that are required, they won’t be starting.”

Detailed route hearings allow property owners on, or in proximity to, the line to voice objections to the specific location of the proposed route, or methods or timing of construction.

They can result in minor changes, but cannot challenge whether the project is in the public interest or where the corridor is.

“It’s about positioning the line within the approved corridor,” said Steedman.

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The hearings don’t affect construction at Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby Westridge Terminal, which was approved by the NEB on Wednesday.

“Westridge Terminal is different. It’s their land, and we have cleared the company on the 49 pre-construction conditions,” Steedman said.

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Kinder Morgan will also need to ensure that it has cleared all of its pre-construction conditions, along with obtaining all municipal, provincial, and federal permits before breaking ground on pipeline construction in B.C., Steedman added.

Kinder Morgan said earlier this summer that it was aiming for a September start to project construction.

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The NEB has also announced a second set of hearings related to a proposed route change through Chilliwack.

Those hearings, slated for early 2018, relate to Trans Mountain’s application to have a piece of the route through the Chilliwack area moved from a B.C. Hydro right of way to the Trans Mountain Pipeline’s existing right of way.

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“The Chilliwack Realignment hearing will examine the proposed alternative route, including the potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of the realignment,” said an NEB statement.

Applications to participate in the realignment hearing are open until September 21.

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B.C.’s NDP government announced earlier this month that it would join the legal fight against the pipeline expansion, and was granted intervener status in the case on Tuesday.

The province has until Friday to submit its filing.

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It also told the company that it was barred from doing any construction on public land until it obtains final provincial approval, subject to further consultation with First Nations.

The $6.8-billion Kinder Morgan expansion would triple the capacity of the existing 1,150 kilometre pipeline between Alberta and Burnaby.

The project was approved by the NEB subject to 157 conditions in 2016. It was given the green light by the federal government that same year, and earned provincial approval from the former BC Liberal government in January.

The NDP has pledged to fight the project using “every tool in the toolbox.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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