The president of Trans Mountain expects to have shovels in the ground in Kamloops by mid-September following a second federal approval of the pipeline twinning project.
Ian Anderson was in Kamloops on Friday, updating staff at the local terminal site following stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Burnaby.
“I think they’re anxious to see us get started and anxious to get back to work,” Anderson said.
At the moment, Trans Mountain is waiting on the National Energy Board (NEB) to reaffirm the approvals it gave the company for satisfying pre-construction conditions during the first round of approvals, before the federal Court ordered a review of marine protection measures and more consultations with First Nations along the pipeline route.
“The NEB has a process to undertake. Over the coming weeks and once that’s completed, we’ll be ready to hit the ground again,” Anderson said, noting the estimated start date hinges on this NEB process not hitting any snags.
Local construction this fall is expected to begin with the portion of the route through the city near Kamloops Airport and the company’s Kamloops Terminal west of Pineview Valley, as well as underneath the Thompson River, Anderson told KTW.
The existing pipeline river crossing will be replaced later this year and into early 2020, which is when the new twinned crossing will be installed as well, he said.
Key river crossings are regularly replaced. Anderson said coverage at the bottom of the Thompson River bed has eroded, so the replaced pipe will be placed deeper.
“It’s not about pipeline integrity, it’s more about the integrity of the river bottom,” he said, noting the pipeline will likely be installed between 20 and 30 feet below the riverbed.
Construction is expected to bring up to 600 workers to Kamloops for 12 to 18 months. Anderson said they will be put up in hotels and motels, which the general contractor will co-ordinate. Kamloops subcontractors will be hired and Anderson hopes about one-third of the workforce will come from the local area.
“It’s going to be dependent upon what the contractor availability is,” he said.
The 1,150-kilometre pipeline will be fully twinned from Edmonton to Burnaby, with 28 kilometres of the pipeline running through Kamloops.
The route follows 73 per cent of the existing pipeline. In Kamloops, deviations occur to bypass Westsyde residences, utilizing an existing Telus right-of-way in the Lac du Bois area above Westsyde, in addition to the east side of Tranquille Road and around Jacko Lake south of Aberdeen.
During NEB hearings last year, the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) — consisting of the Tk’emlups and Skeetchestn First Nations — asked that the pipeline path that runs through Jacko Lake be re-routed.
Jacko Lake is also known as Pipsell, a sacred area for the SSN, and is also subject of an SSN title claim, initiated in 2015 during the proposed Ajax mine application. In January 2016, the provincial government filed a response to the SSN claim, saying it will “vigorously oppose” the claim.
Anderson said the geology of alternative routes in the area are far less workable, noting Trans Mountain still intends to move ahead with construction along the existing route.
He said SSN is aware of this decision, adding the two sides are in discussion.
The company is trying to address the concerns through environmental monitoring and archeological work with the bands and changing construction techniques to bypass sensitive areas.
Trans Mountain has faced significant hurdles with its pipeline twinning project, including fierce opposition from B.C.’s NDP provincial government, due to potential impacts on marine life and what was considered to be a lack of meaningful consultation with First Nations.
Anderson said he understands the issues surrounding the pipeline.
“We hope to be able to get back to work and demonstrate to all affected parties that we can do it [the project] well, that we can deliver a benefit to Canadians and the local communities that we touch,” he said.
Economic benefits to come from pipeline
Anderson said property taxes for the City of Kamloops will likely double with a twinned pipeline.
“We’ll be paying upwards of $3 million a year to the city, whereas today it’s about half that,” he said.
The city will also receive a community benefits agreement of a one-time $750,000 payment.
Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation has signed a $3-million community-benefits agreement with the pipeline company.
Anderson said the band’s agreement includes procurement, contracting and training commitments in addition to immediate and long-term financial compensation.