A key issue raised during the consultation process was the extent to which Anchor Loop would go, beyond merely minimizing project impacts to enhancing the ecological and commemorative integrity of the parks. These issues were addressed through a series of environmental workshops and a multi-stakeholder group that assessed opportunities for enhancing the ecological integrity of Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park through Net Benefit/Gain initiatives. The Environmental Assessment (EA) cited and addressed a number of proposed and potential Net Gain measures identified through consultation.
During the public consultation process, several critical project design or scope changes resulted, including:
- route refinements to minimize stream crossings and wetlands;
- adding additional species to Environmental Assessment wildlife studies in response to feedback from environmental organizations and stakeholders;
- a commitment to provide financial support to environmental non-governmental organization (ENGO) participants to retain technical experts for the purpose of reviewing the Environmental Assessment document; and,
- a commitment to establish a Net Benefits initiative to identify opportunities to enhance the ecological integrity of the two parks, Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park, with the assistance of a multi-stakeholder group.
The term “Net Benefit” was used to describe the “positive environmental legacy” Kinder Morgan Canada (KMC) would fund as part of the project — a commitment both KMC and the ENGOs agreed would supplement whatever was required for regulatory approval. The construction phase provided natural economic synergies because the scope or extent of project-specific mitigation, restoration and enhancement measures were practically extended to accommodate selected “net gain” initiatives. Since more than half the project routed through Jasper National Park did not abut the existing pipeline, KMC was required to demonstrate to Parks Canada officials a positive increase in ecological and commemorative integrity — otherwise referred to as a Net Gain.
Net Benefits/Gains were a key outcome of the consultation process, underscoring the important positive outcomes that can result from meaningful dialogue. Examples of Net Gain projects include the reclamation of gravel pits (not project-related) and the improvement of aquatic connectivity.
In addition to the positive environmental legacy, the local communities of Jasper and Valemount both found the project beneficial for their local businesses and economies.