Engaging Aboriginal groups, businesses and workers is a priority for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. Trans Mountain is committed to ensuring Aboriginal groups benefit from the Project through employment, training and contracting opportunities. Kinder Morgan Canada, Trans Mountain’s parent company, has an Aboriginal Procurement Policy that promotes open and transparent consultation and communication and strives to build lasting relationships with Aboriginal groups and businesses. KMC will work with Aboriginal groups to promote economic development.

Engagement activities related to TMEP have been underway since 2012 and include workshops and public events. Project representatives meet interested parties face-to-face, collect feedback, respond to questions and provide information — such as how to how to prepare for jobs and economic opportunities as a result of construction, which is scheduled to begin in fall 2017.

As part of engagement, Trans Mountain is carrying out a new series of information sessions. Project team representatives including Troy Schwab, Manager, Aboriginal Supply Chain, were on hand recently in communities along the Alberta section of the pipeline. We spoke with Troy about his work and the types of questions he’s getting from people attending the events.

What is your role as Manager, Aboriginal Supply Chain for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project?

My role as Manager, Aboriginal Supply Chain is to work with targeted Aboriginal groups to promote economic development through the identification of opportunities that offer Aboriginal communities and businesses the ability to participate in the procurement of goods and services in support of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP).

What’s your background?

My experience in supply chain management and Aboriginal and local community relations totals 14 years — including seven years in supply chain management and 10 years in Aboriginal and local community relations work centred around Aboriginal business development. I have helped communities understand the upstream operations in their backyards, the business and employment that might be of interest and to see if there were opportunities to help guide them to long-term success.

What are your priorities?

My priorities are the Aboriginal, local and regional communities. TMEP and its contractors are going to use every reasonable effort to train, employ and engage Aboriginal people and their businesses.

At open house events this week in rural Alberta, you were speaking with Aboriginal as well as non-Aboriginal groups. What questions are people asking?

The questions I’m getting are related to opportunities and the timing of the Project.

Project updates are important to every community member including Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups. They’re wondering when they will start to see sustainable benefits from the expansion. It’s understandable — they’ve been hearing about the Project and talking with us about it for several years.

My job is to help them understand what our timing is. Projects take longer to get underway than people would hope, but there’s good reason for the way it’s set up in Canada — to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have their say. It’s a very inclusive system.

What outcomes are you working toward?

You have to meet regulatory requirements and make sure you’re working in compliance with provincial and federal standards regulations. The regulatory process requires us to speak to Aboriginal and local community folks years in advance of construction. For TMEP, we’ve been engaged since 2012.

You want to make sure people have information if they want to learn more about this process. That’s really the key, providing them a conduit for the information. We want to keep them informed. We tell people to let us know if they have concerns and how they would like us to keep them informed about the Project.

It’s always a two-way dialogue. We’re never going to close it off, not even after the final investment decision for the Project. We will do everything we can to listen to and understand concerns and if we can mitigate or help alleviate those concerns, we will.

People may not always like the answers and explanations we provide, but we hope they will respect the open, honest and transparent communication we offer.