While groups across the province are protesting the Federal Government’s June 18 decision to approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain (TMX) pipeline, Hope appears to be largely in favour of the project, says the mayor.
“Overall, the business people I’ve been speaking with are in favour (of the project) because it creates an economic boost (for the community),” Mayor Peter Robb said.
“There was some concern about the railway,” Robb continued. “Rail traffic cuts the community in half, and there have been some minor derailments (in the news recently, but) Trans Mountain has a very good safety record in our community. And of the two options, the pipeline appears to be the winner.”
Since its construction in the early 1950s, the TMX pipeline has served as a key transportation link between Alberta’s oilsands and the west coast. Today, the pipeline is one of the few in the world capable of transporting batch refined products as well as crude oil.
In 2013, the National Energy Board (NEB) approved an expansion to the pipeline that would see its capacity grow from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day. By 2018, the proposal had caused so much friction between British Columbia and Alberta, the Canadian government stepped in and announced its intention to purchase the pipeline for $4.5 billion.
|The approximate route of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project through Hope. Kinder Morgan map|
However, in August 2018, the NEB’s approval was overturned by the Federal Court of Appeals because of the government’s insufficient consulting process with First Nations groups to assess the projects impact.
On June 18, 2019, Canada’s Governor in Council brought an end to the project’s stall by instructing the NEB to issue a certificate allowing for the expansion’s construction and operation.
“So they’ve started coming to us for permits and right-of-ways to start to get that ball rolling again,” Robb said. “But the project’s not solidified … so we’re moving forward feeling cautiously optimistic (because) anytime any of (these) major projects come through town, the businesses benefit.”
The District of Hope also benefits from the pipeline’s twinning, says the mayor. “They’re a big property tax contributor. If they make the site bigger, then we’ll gain more property tax,” which will only serve to benefit the community.
And while there’s no official date for when shovels will be in the ground, Robb says he’s been told in consultations TMX hopes to start digging in September. But regardless of when it happens, the mayor says it will be “business as usual in Hope. The general public probably won’t notice (the construction), but the business people will notice a difference.”