Detailed pipeline route hearings coming this February
by Andru McCracken
Some people may be waiting for the pipeline to start breaking ground, but the reality is the exact route that the pipeline will take past Valemount and beyond hasn’t been approved – and some people are dead set against what has been proposed.
More than 20 statements of opposition have been filed against the specific route planned by Trans Mountain. In February the National Energy Board will hold hearings in Valemount and Clearwater to learn more about these opinions.
“Now that the project has been approved, the Act is clear that the Board may only consider those issues related to determining the best possible route,” said Sarah Kiley, Communications Officer for the National Energy Board.
“Landowners and affected persons may file an opposition to the detailed route of a pipeline based on the location of the pipeline or the methods of timing or construction.
Intrawest has filed a statement of opposition. The company owns 99.99% of Canadian Mountain Holidays and the proposed route goes through their property near the exclusive Valemount heli-ski lodge. Guests of the lodge pay about a quarter million per week, with access to world class chefs, bakers and massage therapists, the company says.
Lawyers representing the heliski company made no bones about their opposition to the timing of the project.
“…the construction of the Pipeline expansion on or in the vicinity of the Lands will unreasonably interfere with Intrawest’s current use and enjoyment of the Lands and thereby cause Intrawest to suffer significant commercial harm…” reads the statement of opposition.
Intrawest is appealing to the National Energy Board to prevent the construction from happening during their operating season, which is December to April.
“It bears emphasis that Intrawest reserves all legal rights that it presently enjoys to pursue Trans Mountain for damages in respect of any harm it may suffer as a result of the construction of the Pipeline expansion…,” reads the statement of opposition.
Killey said the board intends to reach a decision that balances the needs of all parties in the detailed route hearing.
Whether or not landowners and users successfully campaign to change the route, the pipeline company is still required to compensate the landowner, said Killey. She said those interested in the pipeline’s obligations may look at section 86 of the National Energy Board Act.
Of the 20 statements of opposition, most are concerned with the loss of valuable portions of their land that can no longer be built on, or must be harvested of trees.
In a handwritten statement of opposition, John Richardson of Avola recalled the first right of way that already goes through his property. He said the 60 foot by ½ mile right-of-way was settled for a lump sum of $80 in the 1950s and is one of four separate easements on his property, held by BC Hydro, the highway, and fibre optics.
“We wish to hold to that agreement, and as such, we require no monetary compensation for Trans Mountain’s use of that 60 foot right of way,” wrote Richardson. “By the same token, we reserve the right to cede no more of our property to facilitate your project.”