By Laura Keil

The Canada Energy Regulator has issued an Inspection Order to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project for not properly addressing socioeconomic issues related to construction by not following its own Socio-Economic Effects Monitoring Plan.

During a review, an Inspection Officer and Indigenous Monitors determined Trans Mountain was not properly incorporating qualitative data related to worker and local business accommodations in the North Thompson Region. The Energy Regulator also received direct community feedback on these issues.

The Socio-Economic Effects Monitoring Plan was created to monitor impacts on communities during project construction.

“If the community is being negatively impacted, Trans Mountain must take steps to lessen impacts,” the Energy Regulator said. “Companies must be proactive in managing socio-economic impacts during project construction.”

The Energy Regulator has ordered Trans Mountain to address their concerns and fill in incomplete data in Table 5 in the Socio-Economic Effect Monitoring Plan by Aug 4th, 2023. The company is also asked to provide a description of learnings related to monitoring and addressing the Project-related socio-economic effects by August 14, 2023, and provide a corrective action plan that includes how it will ensure qualitative data is included in future Socio-Economic Effects Monitoring Reports by August 21, 2023.

Trans Mountain says their wrap-up date for Spread 3 (North Thompson) is the end of October 2023. 

“Under current planning, Trans Mountain expects the number of Expansion Project workers in Valemount to decrease from 300 in August to 70 in October 2023,” a spokesperson said. “The workforce will demobilize from Valemount before the end of October.”

At the height of construction, some 2,000 workers called Valemount home, double the local population. Rents skyrocketed to $2,000/month per room, and up to approx. $8,000 for a house, with regular food shortages at the grocery store.

This is the first Canada Energy Regulator sanction in the approx. three years of pipeline expansion construction.