The future of the $7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is in question after Kinder Morgan announced it is suspending non-essential construction on the project.
Reaction from the B.C. construction industry and business communities was quick with calls on the B.C. government to end all actions intended to delay the project and restore investor confidence in the province.
“By strangling Trans Mountain, the B.C. NDP government would throw away $5.7 billion in provincial tax revenue, $1 billion in municipal tax revenue, and the opportunities that come with 15,000 construction jobs and 189,000 person-years of employment,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “This decision will send a simple chilling message to businesses looking to start or expand major projects here – stay away from B.C. because you cannot rely on the government to honour its commitments or follow the law.”
The Trans Mountain Expansion Project received federal government approval in November of 2016 after a rigorous and thorough 29-month regulatory process that resulted in Kinder Morgan meeting 157 environmental and legal conditions during the construction and operation of the pipeline. The project has gone through extensive public hearings and has filed voluminous reports on every aspect of the project, meeting all National Energy Board requirements.
This scientifically-vetted and legal process is being threatened by the B.C. provincial and Burnaby city governments, who, once the project received federal approval, were required by law to process permits properly. They have instead engaged in activities designed to deliberately terminate the project, not only to this project’s detriment, but potentially impacting future projects in this province.
“If investors cannot rely on a process that spells out what specific steps need to be taken for a project to proceed, especially for major projects that can take years to review and involve billions of dollars, why would they even consider future investment in British Columbia?” said Keith Sashaw, president and CEO, ACEC-BC. “While the announcement from Kinder Morgan is upsetting and frustrating, it is not surprising, as the decision is a logical outcome of the uncertainty created by the political posturing currently taking place in B.C.”
ACEC-BC joins the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, and the BC Business Council in a call for:
- The B.C. government to immediately stand down on the current Spill Response Review process that will delay and/or endanger the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and, to the extent new and legitimate issues remain in this area, work jointly with other levels of government to collaboratively address them.
- The B.C. government to withdraw from the City of Burnaby’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada on the matter of issuance of municipal permits for a federally-approved project.
- The Prime Minister to convene an in-person meeting with the Premiers of British Columbia and Alberta as soon as possible, and secure their cooperation to address the issues facing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and, failing quick agreement, to seek final resolution by way of exercising the federal government’s legitimate authority in this matter.
“It’s about time the federal government showed Canadians that it’s willing to act in the national interest,” said Paul de Jong, president of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA). “Rhetoric won’t save thousands of skilled jobs and billions in economic benefits that are at stake in communities along the pipeline. We need a government that’s willing to put lawbreakers in their place, once and for all.”