Alberta landowners near Edmonton raise concerns around Trans Mountain expansion

Click to play video: 'Landowners speak at Trans Mountain pipeline hearings' Landowners speak at Trans Mountain pipeline hearings
WATCH ABOVE: The National Energy Board is hearing from landowners near Spruce Grove concerned about the route of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Kim Smith reports – Dec 1, 2017

The National Energy Board (NEB) heard from landowners near Spruce Grove, Alta. on Friday concerned about the route, timing and method of construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan project was approved by the federal government last year.

READ MORE: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley champions Trans Mountain pipeline in Ottawa

It will expand an existing pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, British Columbia and triple the capacity of the pipeline.

The NEB landowner hearings began at the end of November in Edson, Alta. and Hinton, Alta.

In Spruce Grove on Friday, four groups of landowners and their lawyer were stating their cases as to why they oppose the route.

READ MORE: Ottawa seeks conflict resolution panel for Trans Mountain pipeline project

Some of the issues raised included the destruction of trees and safety during construction.

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Keelan Petterson owns 22 acres west of the Yellowhead in Parkland County. He estimated he will lose about 1,000 trees because of pipeline construction.

“This is the original farm house on a quarter section. And what they did is they took a subdivision and put a loop behind it in a horse shoe,” Petterson said. “There’s acreages on each side of that loop all the way around and I’ve got 22 acres right in the middle of that loop with trees all the way around me. I can’t see any of my neighbours and my neighbours can’t see me. It’s privacy and they want to take all that out. I’m going to have like a bomb path right through there.

Trans Mountain’s detailed routing view through Keelan Petterson’s property. National Energy Board

“I’m not objecting to the pipeline. I knew the pipeline had to go through when I bought the property (in 2015),” he said.

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“But now, what I’m objecting to, is every time I meet with them (Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain representatives), they say they want this, they want this, they want this. And they keep taking more space.”

Representatives from the Trans Mountain project were also present to field questions.

The general route of the 1,147-kilometre pipeline has already been approved. These hearings will determine the exact placement of the new pipeline within the approved corridor.

In all, about a dozen hearings are being held for land between Edmonton and Jasper. The NEB is expected to begin rolling out its decisions in the New Year.

“One of the common issues all down the line is about trees,” NEB’s James Stevenson said. “How many trees need to be cleared in the right of way.”

“Here in Alberta, we’re dealing with a lot of individual landowners. As the pipeline gets into the lower mainland to B.C., we’re expecting the concerns to change a little bit because the landowners are more municipalities and businesses.”

READ MORE: B.C. government tells Ottawa to back off in Trans Mountain pipeline process as debate heats up

In B.C., 66 of about 1,200 permits that are required for the Trans Mountain project to proceed have been approved. B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman said the remainder are waiting on additional environmental assessments and consultation with First Nations by Kinder Morgan.

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Kinder Morgan has appealed to the National Energy Board, arguing Burnaby in Metro Vancouver is wrongly withholding construction permits for its pipeline after it has been approved by the federal government.

The pipeline proposal has prompted opposition from environmentalists, First Nations, and the B.C.’s NDP government.

In an email to Global News Friday evening, a spokesperson for Kinder Morgan said they were unable to respond to Petterson’s concerns specifically at this time. However, the company said, generally speaking:

“From the outset of planning, Trans Mountain developed routing principles to guide our decisions. Our primary focus when planning the pipeline corridor is safety – for landowners, the environment and communities, and our key objective is to treat people who are potentially affected by our project both fairly and respectfully.

“Trans Mountain recognizes the potential impact to our neighbours and communities and we’ve been working diligently to meet with landowners to identify and address their needs and issues, and to negotiate land agreements for the properties we require to construct the pipeline. We are continuing to work with landowners and believe we can reach voluntary agreements with a majority of them.”

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