The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project, as proposed, would parallel the existing Trans Mountain pipeline route wherever practical. This is known as a “Brownfield” project — whereas completely new pipelines are known as “Greenfield” projects.
This approach to routing provides a number of advantages. The need for new pipeline corridors would be reduced because the existing corridor would be expanded, and construction and operating activities would occur along an existing right-of-way. Portions of the existing right-of-way could also be used during construction, reducing the area disturbed. During pipeline operations, company staff and existing landowners and municipalities would have existing working relationships that would provide the basis for the new pipeline operations.
The route of the proposed Trans Mountain expansion essentially follows the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Strathcona County, AB and Burnaby, BC. Along this distance, approximately 980 kilometres of new pipeline construction is being proposed.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline currently crosses over 2,200 private properties, as well as public lands, traditional territories and First Nation Reserves. Long-standing agreements are in place with landowners, Aboriginal groups, municipalities and crown agencies along the route that have allowed Trans Mountain to build and operate the existing pipeline. These land agreements grant pipeline companies – such as Trans Mountain – the right to use these lands to build, operate and maintain pipelines.
Planning the Proposed New Route
Where practical, the alignment of the proposed expansion route will parallel the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline. Trans Mountain recognizes that many regional changes have occurred since the pipeline was installed 60 years ago and that some routing decisions made in 1952 would be different if made today.
Where new roads and infrastructure have been built, and patterns of land use have changed with the growth of communities, Trans Mountain is listening to Aboriginal peoples, landowners and stakeholders and will consider deviating from the existing route while balancing operational, engineering, environmental, community and economic factors.
It is Trans Mountain’s intention to find a route for the proposed pipeline, which minimizes impact to residences and communities. Where privately-held land is needed for the proposed new route, land agents from Trans Mountain will discuss proposed locations of the pipeline with landowners. Our goal is to reach mutually-acceptable agreements with landowners to allow Trans Mountain to build and maintain the proposed new pipeline.
It is important to note that pipeline companies such as Trans Mountain do not have the right to expropriate land from landowners. Expropriation is a legal term that conveys the right of an entity to acquire private property for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest. Expropriation is sometimes used by agencies such as municipalities to obtain private lands for a public use such as a roadway.
In rare cases, the National Energy Board (NEB) could grant a Right-of-Entry Order to a pipeline company where the landowner and the company are unable to reach agreement and the NEB determines the proposed project is in the public interest. This type of order is made under the National Energy Board Act that grants a company access to and use of a defined portion of land for the purposes set out in the order – such as the building and maintaining of a pipeline. This is a long and involved process and is not the way Trans Mountain wishes to conduct its business. It’s our goal to treat all landowners fairly and equitably. We have established and maintained relationships with landowners, neighbours and communities along the pipeline corridor for the last 60 years.
Route Consideration Factors
In planning this new pipeline, the primary focus for Trans Mountain will be safety above all else — safety for landowners, the environment and communities. Extensive studies and community discussions will identify route options for the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project. Key factors to consider include:
- Land use: residences, commercial, recreation, parks
- Sensitive areas
- Water crossings
- Wetlands and wildlife
- Public and worker safety
- Technical constraints / possible construction techniques
- Geotechnical conditions
- Pipeline length
- Number and difficulty of crossings (highways, roads, other line crossings)
Following route selection, Trans Mountain will then submit an application to the National Energy Board — the federal regulator for pipelines — for review. The proposed route will provide a basis for the Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment also included within the project application.