Latest Updates on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project

December 4, 2020 - How Indigenous perspectives and participation are helping shape a better regulator for Canadian energy


The following is an opinion co-authored by Gitane De Silva, CEO of the Canada Energy Regulator and Michelle Wilsdon and Kimberly Lavoie, Co-Chairs of the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee of the Trans Mountain expansion and existing pipeline. It appeared in the site on Thursday, December 3, 2020.

Since 2017, the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee (IAMC) for the Trans Mountain Expansion and existing pipeline has been forging new relationships between the Government of Canada, the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), and Indigenous communities impacted by the pipeline. A new way of working together outside of legal consultations, the IAMC supports Indigenous communities to meaningfully participate in monitoring the project and provides a forum for communities to come together to provide advice to the Government on topics of shared interest.

Indigenous members of the IAMC hold diverse views on the expansion project, but all share the goal of ensuring the project is built and operated safely, preventing harm to the environment and respecting Indigenous rights and interests.

A cornerstone of this new relationship is the Indigenous monitoring initiative, which has trained and supported more than 40 people from over 18 impacted Indigenous communities to directly participate in on-the-ground inspections and site visits with the CER, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Parks Canada as Indigenous monitors. IAMC Indigenous monitors bring Indigenous knowledge and values to the work of making sure Trans Mountain Corporation is living up to its commitments and the conditions, regulations, and legislation under which it operates. The initiative also supports open dialogue with regulators, the company, and the IAMC on issues that go beyond basic compliance verification and enforcement.

Recently, the CER and IAMC achieved the milestone of partnering on more than 50 joint compliance verification activities. Working together as a team is making the CER a better regulator, one that is learning to better understand and address Indigenous issues, and is helping to build the skills of Indigenous communities in areas like environmental, safety, and socio-economic monitoring.

The evolution of this partnership, among the first of its kind in Canada, has not been without its challenges. We have worked hard to build trust and relationships at every level from leadership to on-the-ground field staff, and looked to Indigenous elders to guide us on this journey in difficult times. Key to nurturing our relationship has been creating space for joint learning and dialogue around cultural perceptions of risk, changing how we define and prevent harm, building practical bridges between Western science and Indigenous knowledge, and reconciling Indigenous rights with effective regulation of Canadian energy infrastructure.

Much progress has been made. Two recent compliance activities were led by IAMC monitors. The activities were shaped by the monitors’ values and knowledge and focused on making sure the right measures were taken to reduce impacts to Indigenous sites of interest in BC and Alberta. These were among the first Indigenous monitor-led inspections with a Canadian federal regulator.

Thanks to the IAMC, Indigenous communities will increasingly have a say in where and when regulators inspect the pipeline’s construction and what regulators look at when they are there. Including Indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices in the oversight of resource development and sustainable environmental management are important steps towards advancing the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

This progress reflects a tremendous amount of important and hard work. We want to thank early champions like Chief Harvey McLeod of Upper Nicola Band, IAMC Member for Alberta First Nations Raymond Cardinal, Chief Marcel Shackelly of Nooaitch Indian Band, and countless others who have been instrumental in helping us realize the vision of Indigenous “boots on the ground”.

These are the first steps towards reconciliation in action and we know we have much further to go. Earning the trust and confidence of Indigenous peoples while building and operating safe and efficient pipelines and powerlines requires time and patience. We have so much to gain by working together and the CER and Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee remains committed to cooperation, in the field and at the table.

September 29, 2020 - CER inspections continue all along the TMEP route

CER inspector conducting an environmental protection inspection along the Trans Mountain route.

Since the beginning of this year, the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) has published 14 inspection reports that look at specific aspects of the safe construction and operation of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and existing line. Inspections are continuing this fall to oversee the numerous construction activities at various locations in Alberta and British Columbia where the route has been finalized. Inspections of the project are planned to align with the company’s construction schedule and condition compliance filings.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared, the CER has adapted how it conducts its compliance verification activities, including inspections, to protect the health and safety of CER staff, its regulated companies, and all those we work closely with. In the current operating environment the CER is also working to verify that companies are taking all steps required to protect their workers.

The CER recently posted its inspection report [CV2021-224] which reviews compliance to the contractor code of conduct, the community orientation program, and implementation of COVID-19 safety and hygiene measures at the Valemont Camp. As construction of the project progresses this fall, the CER will continue to conduct inspections to oversee all aspects of the project, including how the environment is protected, people are kept safe and how the pipeline is being built and tested for service in compliance with our regulations.

June 4, 2020 - Detailed route now 86% approved

Status of 2019 detailed route approvals Click to enlarge

Source and description

Source: CER

Description: Status of detailed route approvals

The Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator (Commission) has now approved more than 86 per cent of the detailed route of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (Project).

On June 4, the Commission approved 122 kilometres of the route in British Columbia [Filing C06676], or 12 per cent, of the entire pipeline route. There is now roughly 135 kilometres, or 14 per cent, of the total 991 kilometre route that remains to be finalized.

Specifically, the Project route is now fully approved in Segment 1 in Alberta, as well as in Segment 3 (between Hargreaves and Blue River) in B.C.. Segment 7 in Burnaby, B.C. is also finalized. A complete list of detailed route approvals can be found on the website.

Construction activities on the Project are only permitted in areas where all pre-construction conditions have been satisfied and the location of the pipeline route has been finalized through the detailed route process.

The portions of the route approved June 4, 2020, follow a May 29, 2020, Commission decision to revise the geographic scope of Detailed Route Hearing MH-027-2020 related to the opposition of Sema:th First Nation (also referred to as Sumas First Nation in recent filings) [Filing C06552].

Reasons for that decision are expected to be released shortly.

May 15, 2020 – Westridge Delivery Line Relocation decision

Trans Mountain Expansion Project Terminals and Tunnel Section Click to enlarge

Source and description

Source: CER

Description: Trans Mountain Expansion Project Terminals and Tunnel Section

Today, the Commission of the CER released its decision on the application for the 3.6-kilometre-long Westridge Delivery Line Relocation, finding that it is in the public interest.

The project will replace an existing delivery line that currently transports oil from the Burnaby Terminal to the Westridge Marine terminal through residential areas of Burnaby. The new delivery line will use the same tunnel through Burnaby Mountain as the two other delivery lines that are part of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP). The full decision can be found here [Filing C06322].

Temporary physical disturbance caused by construction of the new delivery line is anticipated only at the proposed entry and exit points for the tunnel, both of which are within the fence lines of Trans Mountain-owned, industrial-zoned land at the Burnaby Terminal and Westridge Marine Terminal. Once the new delivery line is operational, the CER expects Trans Mountain to file an application to decommission the existing delivery line.

Based on Trans Mountain’s current schedule, tunneling activities through Burnaby Mountain are expected to commence in the fall/winter of 2020 and take upwards of two years to complete.

The new delivery line will not result in an increase in the approved volume of transported oil, and its location through Burnaby Mountain is responsive to previous feedback from residents requesting that the existing delivery line be moved from under Burnaby’s streets. This is consistent with the previous National Energy Board finding in the TMEP Certificate hearing that routing the two new TMEP delivery lines through Burnaby Mountain “is the preferable route because it avoids residential areas and urban infrastructure, reduces environmental effects during construction and operation, and minimizes risk during operation.”

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