Construction of Trans Mountain pipeline expansion still faces hurdles

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – Numerous hurdles remain before major work can begin on the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline even though the corporation announced last month that construction was set to begin.

Trans Mountain hasn’t signed agreements with 33 percent of landowners along the route.

The Canadian Energy Regulator, formerly the National Energy Board, also hasn’t approved the project’s detailed route or scheduled route hearings.

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Trans Mountain told the regulator last month that it needs to start work on the Burnaby Mountain tunnel portal before the rainy season in November, but the regulator says it can’t begin until the route is approved.

David Wright, a University of Calgary assistant law professor, says that’s unlikely to happen before November.

The government now says the expanded pipeline will be operational by mid-2022, and Wright says that’s a realistic timeline if all goes according to the plan — but that hasn’t happened so far.

The Liberal government bought the pipeline for 4.5 billion dollars last year and the parliamentary budget officer has said that if the expansion isn’t done by the end of 2021, it would be fair to conclude the government overpaid.

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