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This article was published 10/3/2015 (2628 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
St. Norbert residents have many questions regarding the Energy East Pipeline — slated to carry crude oil through an existing natural gas line — including what the risks are and whether or not the pipeline’s route can be moved.
On Feb. 25 approximately 55 people attended a forum hosted by the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition on TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline in search of clarity.
The 4,600-kilometre pipeline will carry approximately 1.1-million barrels of crude oil per day from the tar sands in Alberta to refineries in Eastern Canada. The oil will flow through a converted existing natural gas pipeline across Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario where a new pipeline will be constructed to complete the route to the east coast. The pipeline to be used runs south of St. Norbert, crossing the Red and La Salle Rivers.
Among the concerns expressed at the forum, oil spills, explosions, and proximity to waterways and residential neighbourhoods were at the forefront of the discussion.
Louise May, St. Norbert resident and owner of Aurora Farms, spoke at the forum in opposition of the pipeline conversion. May says she has been concerned with the development of the tar sands in Alberta for a number of years.
"Everything in me tells me that this is not a good idea, and it’s putting bad against bad, and we just have to stop this way of thinking," she said.
When May learned the pipeline near the community would carry oil instead of natural gas, she felt the need to fight it.
"Obviously I have some direct concerns with my business and my longstanding commitment to the community; those are my first things," she said, adding that she has applied for intervener status with the National Energy Board (NEB).
Tim Duboyce, spokesperson for the Energy East Pipeline, said there are a number of economic benefits for the community including jobs and tax revenue.
According to Duboyce, Manitoba’s GDP activity will increase by $1.8 billion during the construction phase and first 20 years of service and approximately 500 jobs will be created over the construction period.
"Those jobs are part of what generates that economic activity, and almost 200 full-time jobs are supported by the presence of Energy East," Duboyce said.
He explained that TransCanada would have contracts with local trades to do the work, so while more than 200 people would be working for the pipeline on a contract basis, it would equal out to 200 full-time jobs.
To ensure city resources, including the Shoal Lake Aqueduct, are protected, the City of Winnipeg has solicited a $1 million risk assessment study, according to Coun. Janice Lukes (St. Norbert).
"I am really pleased," Lukes said. "I would want the cty to do its due diligence to protect its assets, so I am pleased the city is doing that."
According to Duboyce, TransCanada is not required to pay for risk studies as they publish their own publicly accessible studies as part of the filing process to the NEB.
"The city is certainly allowed to carry out its own study if it wants… If our impact studies were considered to be not adequate for some reason, they do meet regulatory standards and that is what we have filed," Duboyce said, adding that supplementary studies are being filed on a regular basis.
"So if stakeholders are willing to stand by and get that information as we make it available, it’s all theirs."
St. Norbert MLA Dave Gaudreau is encouraging all residents to write their MP and MLA to express their concerns with the pipeline. Gaudreau says he has applied for intervener status with the NEB.
"My thoughts are we need to look after what’s best for the people of the area, and I am not going to take a stand on the whole pipeline, but as far St. Norbert goes, I have concerns about where it is, the proximity to homes, families, farms and waterways," Gaudreau said.
Duboyce says the current facts of the pipeline under review by the NEB wouldn’t justify relocating the pipeline away from St. Norbert, though he admitted changes to the route have been made in other locations.
"We’re in conversations with stakeholders and elected officials and landowners and we’re making adjustments to the pipeline route in some cases, there’s no question about it," Duboyce said.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.