An Enbridge oil pipeline has been approved and if all conditions are met will pass between Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.
In June, the government of Canada approved the Northern Gateway pipeline with 209 set conditions. The purposed twin pipeline system is planned to run from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, B.C, carrying natural gas condensate and will be 11,770 km long. From the first application until now, Northern Gateway has spent close to 12 years designing the project to meet the needs of British Columbians, Albertans and provincial and federal governments, said Janet Holder, executive director of Western Access.
“It was not a quick process, maybe one of the most reviewed in all of Canada,” said Ms Holder.
When asked to compare environmental efforts to that of the recent Mount Polly project, Ms. Holder answered, “There is clearly a perception issue for all industry but all projects need to be judged on their own merits. We are in a different process than what would transpire in other projects. We are a national project and there are different regulations and considerations than provincial projects.”
Before construction can even begin, 113 of the conditions must first be met. Although there is talk about starting construction in 15-18 months, the conditions are so extensive a lot of them have to be filed one year in advance of start-up. These conditions are laid out by the National Energy Board of B.C. and a majority of them pertain to socio economic conditions including consultations with Aboriginal communities, capacity building such as making sure eligible workers have the skills and requirements to work on the project and becoming a part of each community’s sustainability plan.
“The only access point is through Vanderhoof so we certainly want to be a part of the plans that go through,” said Mayor Gerry Thiessen. “We want to be a community that people are attracted to coming to and staying in.”
The main focus now is to use community colleges to train local workers. Also in terms of local hiring, the project has a requirement to fill the gaps of what is needed and what the communities can provide. The project has spent over $3 million on education already, even before being approved. Another step is procuring emergency response consultations with each individual community.
“The more we work on these conditions the more we realize we must be aggressive because there is so much work still needing to be done to meet the requirements,” said Ms. Holder. There is still a lot of consultations needing to be done and communities will probably be seeing more of us in the next year,” said Ms. Holder.