Trans Mountain Expansion construction ‘necessary but not sufficient’ condition for Notley re-election

Polling data shows Notley has to work harder telling her story if she hopes to win back Alberta voters – Janet Brown

“Trans Mountain filed its construction progress report today and there was good news for Albertans and for Canada. Work gets underway in Alberta this month,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley tweeted Tuesday. Without it, the NDP leader has no chance of winning next year’s election, according to political scientist Duane Bratt.

Prof. Duane Bratt, Mount Royal University.

She needs significant progress on the pipeline before the next election,” the Mount Royal University professor said in an interview. “It’s a necessary but not sufficient condition. If there are shovels in the ground, she has a chance. If there aren’t, there is no chance.”

A new poll from Janet Brown’s Trend Research shows that most (60%) Albertans are skeptical Trans Mountain Expansion will be completed before 2020, while only 17 per cent think it will be finished on schedule and 12 per cent think it will never be built.

Trans Mountain said in a press release that “there is no update to the projected in-service date for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.”

The omnibus survey of 900 Albertans took place between June 12 and 19 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Brown also found that six in 10 respondents approved of the Canadian government’s decision last month to purchase the $7.4 billion, 590,000 b/d project (plus the existing 300,000 b/d Trans Mountain pipeline and related assets) from Kinder Morgan.

Calgarians were slightly more skeptical than Edmontonians or residents in other parts or the province. Calgary is shaping up to be the key battleground in the coming Alberta election and Bratt says that recent focus groups conducted during Brown’s polling for CBC showed that former Notley voters are the most critical of the Premier and most demanding of some success on the pipeline file.

The most pro-Kenney people were the progressive focus group,” he said. 

“There’s a feeling that’s she’s [Notley] pretty much on her own here. That there isn’t a whole lot of depth around the cabinet table. I think Shannon Phillips is a very impressive person, but she’s not the one pushing the pipeline. That is Notley.”

Bratt says that UCP leader Jason Kenney is handily winning the political messaging battle over energy issues and the NDP need to elevate their game in a hurry.

Janet Brown, pollster, Trends Research.

“If there is construction on Trans Mountain Expansion, that will boost her case, that will allow her to really tell her story,” he said.

“There’s a large group of Albertans that believe Kenney is going to get credit, or should get credit for it, because he’s pushed Notley in a direction that she didn’t necessarily want to go. And that is great political messaging by Jason Kenney.”

Brown agrees. She says the polling data shows that while Albertans admire Notley and support her battle to get the pipeline built, they would expect that of any Alberta premier.

“There’s a sense that Jason Kenney would be doing exactly the same thing, if not acting more forcefully than she is,” she said in an interview.

Brown says recent polling continues to show Kenney with a healthy lead among decided voters (50%) compared to Notley (32%).

Trans Mountain Expansion construction schedule

The company says its schedule is subject to “fulfilling applicable necessary pre-construction Conditions and receipt of necessary local permits and permissions from various levels of governments and authorities.”

The National Energy Board was forced to implement a process for resolving disputes between Trans Mountain and the City of Burnaby over tree cutting permits late last year. The NEB also ruled that Burnaby was dragging its feet and allowed the company to proceed without the permits. Burnaby and the BC government appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal, which dismissed the case.

The company says that construction will begin in Alberta in next month and the North Thompson region of British Columbia in late Sept., while additional work is planned for the Lower Mainland and the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby (underway since Sept. 2017) will continue.

“We’re excited to be moving forward in Alberta and the North Thompson, bringing and delivering on our commitments to local, regional and Aboriginal jobs and benefits,” said Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada Limited.

“We have undertaken thorough, extensive and meaningful consultations with Indigenous Peoples, communities and individuals and remain dedicated to those efforts and relationships as we move forward with construction activities.”

Construction Activities – July 2018 to January 2019

Spread 2 – Central Alberta

  • Spread 2 includes approximately 290 kms of pipeline between Edmonton and Jasper National Park in Alberta.
  • Midwest Pipelines Inc. is the general contractor for this portion of the Project.
  • Work will begin in August 2018 and will include:
    • Surveying, staking and flagging the right-of-way, installing signage
    • Measures to protect the environment, such as weed control, relocation of any rare plants, wildlife surveys
    • Clearing of trees and vegetation

Spread 3 – North Thompson, BC

  • Spread 3 is approximately 120 kms of pipeline between Mt. Robson Provincial Park and Blue River in BC’s North Thompson.
  • This work will be carried out by Ledcor Sicim Limited Partnership (LSLP).
  • Work will begin September 2018 and will include:
    • Surveying, staking and flagging the right-of-way, installing signage
    • Measures to protect the environment, such as weed control, relocation of any rare plants, wildlife surveys
    • Clearing of trees and vegetation

Lower Mainland, BC

  • Lower Mainland includes Westridge Marine Terminal, Burnaby Terminal, Burnaby Mountain tunnel and Sumas Terminal in Abbotsford.
  • Kiewit-Ledcor Trans Mountain Partnership (KLTP) is the contractor for Lower Mainland.
  • Construction at the Westridge Marine Terminal began in September 2017 and has continued over the past nine months.
  • Additional construction activities are scheduled to begin in July 2018 and will include:
    • Developing the Westridge Marine Terminal tunnel portal
    • Relocating existing infrastructure to accommodate the expansion at Burnaby Terminal

Line-wide – Temporary Infrastructure

  • Work is underway and will continue in 2018 along the entire pipeline route to develop temporary infrastructure sites such as stockpile sites, construction yards and camps. This work includes:
    • Laying down gravel, installing safety fencing
    • Installing temporary buildings for construction offices or worker accommodation
  • Temporary sites include pipe stockpile sites in BC and Alberta, construction yards and camp locations in Valemount, Blue River, Clearwater, Merritt and Hope, BC.


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