Trans Mountain pipeline expansion officially kicks off construction on Tuesday

After years of delays and difficulties, the official start to construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will kick off Tuesday afternoon.

The pipeline runs from the Edmonton area to a marine terminal in Burnaby, B.C. The expansion will see a second pipeline built roughly parallel to the first that can carry almost twice as much crude oil every day. The beginning of the pipeline is also being re-routed.

A media event to mark the start of right-of-way construction is being held Tuesday afternoon west of Edmonton in the Acheson industrial park.

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Leaders attending the event include Trans Mountain president and CEO Ian Anderson, federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage, members of the the Enoch Cree Nation and local government representatives.

FILE: Premier Rachel Notley joined Enoch Cree Nation, the federal government and Trans Mountain officials for a special blessing ceremony near the site that will store pipe needed to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project on July 27, 2018.
FILE: Premier Rachel Notley joined Enoch Cree Nation, the federal government and Trans Mountain officials for a special blessing ceremony near the site that will store pipe needed to build the Trans Mountain Expansion Project on July 27, 2018. Fletcher Kent, Global News

A similar event was held in July 2018, when a pipeline blessing took place at Enoch, attended by then-premier Rachel Notley, former federal natural resources minister Amarjeet Sohi and Enoch Chief Bill Morin. At that event, it was announced that Enoch land would be a staging and stockpiling area for the line with at least 35 to 40 kilometres of pipe on site.

Construction on the pipeline was halted in September 2018, after the Federal Court of Appeal overturned federal approval citing insufficient environmental and Indigenous consultations.

The federal government bought the existing pipeline for $4.5 billion a few months earlier, in a bid to overcome the opposition of the B.C. government to the expansion.

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READ MORE: $320M in government subsidies given to Trans Mountain in first half of 2019

Cabinet undertook new rounds of both and approved the expansion a second time in June.

Construction on Trans Mountain pipeline project could resume within the month

Construction on Trans Mountain pipeline project could resume within the month

Construction on the pipeline then resumed this past August, starting with work on the marine terminals in British Columbia and pumping stations in Alberta.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain to resume construction on pipeline expansion

The first 50 kilometres of actual pipeline would start being laid in the Edmonton area shortly, a spokesperson for Trans Mountain Canada told The Canadian Press in October.

Thus far, more than 2,200 workers have been hired and Trans Mountain Corp. said it has focused on hiring Indigenous and local workers.

In recent months, construction work has taken place both at the Edmonton Terminal in Strathcona County, as well as along the pipeline’s new route around the city along the Transportation/Utility Corridor in which Anthony Henday Drive is also built. (The current pipeline, built in the 1950s, runs across south Edmonton.)

Map showing the current Trans Mountain Pipeline and the route for the replacement section around Edmonton.
Map showing the current Trans Mountain Pipeline and the route for the replacement section around Edmonton. Trans Mountain Corp.

Work at Edmonton Terminal includes the installation of temporary infrastructure needed for construction and additional temporary access routes. Construction work has also taken place in southwest Edmonton, where crews have been seen prepping the pipeline right-of-way throughout the fall.

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Construction on the expansion is supposed to be done by the middle of 2022. The Canadian government plans to ultimately sell the pipeline.

— More to come…

— With files from The Canadian Press

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