By Korie Marshall

Kinder Morgan brought two messages to Valemount at the end of November – that Canada is losing $50 million every day and that local people will have work if the pipeline is approved.

The National Energy Board expects to receive Kinder Morgan’s application for the expansion in December. A project description was submitted last spring, and the National Energy Board has provided a list of issues Kinder Morgan needs to consider in its application, such as the need for the project, potential impacts on landowners and Aboriginal interests, environmental and socio-economic effects from the project and the resulting marine shipping. The Energy Board has stated Kinder Morgan does not need to consider effects associated with the development of oil sands or the downstream uses of oil for this project.

In general, pipelines have faced strong opposition across North America, and the Trans Mountain pipeline has not been immune. Kinder Morgan plans to almost triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby. Trans Mountain was originally built 60 years ago, and Kinder Morgan hopes to install a second, larger pipeline along their existing right-of-way, or as close as possible. Opponents have pointed to recent leaks in the Trans Mountain and other pipelines, and some residents, like in Burnaby where the new route cannot follow the existing one, have expressed strong opposition to having a pipeline on both sides of their community. However recent rail accidents involving oil cars have highlighted the risk in shipping oil by rail.

Representatives from Kinder Morgan’s “Stakeholder Engagement Team” for the expansion were in Valemount last week, discussing the potential economic benefits of the project. The meeting was sponsored by the Valemount Chamber of Commerce, and some 70 local residents attended.

Losing $50 million a day

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce estimates Canada is losing out on more than $50 million a day in oil revenues. A Kinder Morgan representative at the Valemount meeting explained the estimated loss is due to a bottle neck in Canadian oil exports, meaning a glut of supply to the US, Canada’s current major customer. He said the lack of access to the world market means oil producers here have to accept a price from the US, who is importing less oil, rather than setting their own price on the world market.

A video based on the Chamber’s work and available on the Trans Mountain website says that loss means a loss of jobs for Canadians, and a loss of more than $15 million in tax revenue every day. The video claims twinning the pipeline will mean improved access to world markets, which will assist in recovering those lost revenues. It says the expansion project is estimated to cost $5.4 billion, and, with operating costs, means $2.1 billion more in federal taxes, $1.7 billion in provincial taxes, and $500 million in municipal taxes over 20 years.

Kinder Morgan estimates 4,500 jobs will be created at the peak of construction, and estimates the workforce will spend $400 million in accommodation, food and recreation. It is only expected to create 50 additional permanent positions in BC.

Kinder Morgan is currently estimating a peak of over 600 workers required over a few months in the summer of 2016, and 280 over the summer of 2017 in the Valemount area. They are making no commitments yet, but workers might be housed in the community, in a camp, or some combination of the two. Kate Stebbings, Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Lead for Kinder Morgan, says Kinder Morgan’s goal is to create opportunity and leave as much money in the community as possible. She pointed to three potential economic impacts to Valemount – housing and spending from workers brought in, employment and procurement opportunities from the construction itself, and what she calls a “community investment piece.”

Stebbings notes Valemount has already experienced some of the benefits and difficulties of hosting a work crew. “In the Anchor Loop project,” she says, referring to the twinning of the pipeline through Jasper and Mount Robson Parks in 2008, “the auto store ran out of car batteries, the grocery store ran out of milk.” She says Kinder Morgan is reaching out to enterprising people who might be interested in taking advantage of the opportunities.

Employment and procurement opportunities

Kinder Morgan expects one contractor will build 115 kilometers of pipeline and two new pump houses in the Valemount area, and virtually all employment would be through that contractor.

Marjorie Knorr, the Employment and Training Lead for Kinder Morgan, says they expect about 40 per cent of their required positions to be open to local workers and contractors, including jobs like logging and clearing, skilled and semi-skilled labour, equipment operators and welders’ helpers. She notes that the welders will likely come with the primary contractors, because of the experience required.

“Kinder Morgan is terrified that they won’t have enough people to get this project done.” Stebbings says people in the community who are interested and qualified will have work available for them.

Investment – outside the Village

Property taxes from the pipeline right-of-way and facilities often go to local municipalities, but here, they will go directly to the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, since none of their buildings or pipelines are currently within the village boundary. Near Valemount, the existing pipeline crosses under Swift Creek on the west side of the highway, and goes through private properties and farmland west of the Village boundary, along Cranberry Lake Road, and crosses under the CN rail line and Highway 5 to the east near Canoe River Campground. The second pipeline, if approved, is expected to be placed in existing right-of-way through most of this area. Stebbings says property taxes paid to the regional district in 2013 were over $2 million, and Kinder Morgan expects the expansion to increase that figure to just over $4 million a year.

She also says there will be an opportunity for the community to submit requests to Kinder Morgan on ways for them to leave “lasting benefits within the community.” Some communities for example have asked to have the right-of-ways turned into trails, or construction trailers donated for use as low income housing.

Valemount comment

Curtis Pawliuk, General Manager of Valemount Area Recreation Development Association, said he is neither for nor against pipelines, but he is appreciative of Kinder Morgan’s communication with the community so far, and their response to concerns he has raised through previous meetings. His comment was greeted with a round of applause from attendees.

Other comments from community members focussed on the details of specific business opportunities, housing situations, possible community investment projects, but representatives responded that specifics are not known yet, as the project is still in the early stages.

In response to a question about whether Kinder Morgan would consider helping with training locals for potential positions, Knorr said they don’t know yet know if the project will happen, so they are not in a position to contribute in that way. Another resident asked how Kinder Morgan plans to deal with the social challenges of bringing 600 people into a small community, and Stebbings responded it is something they are considering. She says they plan to have primary health care (EMS, first aid, ambulances) available in the camps.

If Kinder Morgan’s application is complete, the National Energy Board will hold a public hearing before making a recommendation to the Governor in council. Interested parties can sign up for email updates and learn about the application to participate in the hearing. For more information contact Reny Chakkalakal, National Energy Board Hearing Process Advisor, at [email protected] or 1-800-899-1265.