It’s a replacement project years in the making: and machines are finally in the ground.
Early work on Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement, one of the country’s biggest infrastructure projects, was unveiled to a select number of media, dignitaries and officials on Thursday.
The replacement is promising hundreds of millions of dollars across the prairie provinces, including in Manitoba, where Enbridge has boasted that $400 million dollars will go back into the provincial economy.
Canada’s Federal Minister of Natural Resources said it’s a massive step towards getting more crude oil to more markets after transportation was limited by the current, 50-year-old line.
“Every government has a responsibility to make sure our natural resources will be continue to be a source of middle class job for Canadians,” Amajeet Sohi said.
“Economy and environment go hand in hand.”
The Line 3 project represents a rare pipeline success story for the federal Liberal party. But it hasn’t all gone smoothly.
The $5.3 billion project is opposed by environmental and some Indigenous groups, including the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition, who have been demonstrating near the line in recent weeks.
While they stage camp-outs, 95 Indigenous communities have signed off on the deal. That includes the Birdfall Sioux Dakota Nation, lead by Chief Ken Chalmers.
Chalmers is a vocal supporter of the replacement.
“Everyone wants health care,” Chalmers said. “First Nations need housing, and our government needs that revenue. There’s a lot of work to do with the poorest of the poor in this country.”
“Prosperity and jobs for Indigenous communities and their participation in the resource development is very critical,” Sohi said.
The original line was put in in 1968.
Enbridge said Thursday that the obvious intention is to use modern construction techniques — which involve things like tighter welding and stronger steel — to help ensure the line is safe and reliable.
Once completed, the new pipeline will stretch more than 1,600 kilometres across the prairies to Superior, Wisconsin. It will enter Manitoba near the southwestern community of Kola before crossing the border at Gretna.
About 40 per cent of work on the replacement was done last year — most of it in Alberta and Saskatchewan — but 652 kilometres still need to be redone. That includes three sections in southern Manitoba.