Trans Mountain is already working to make amends after the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) issued it an Inspection Order on July 10.
According to a news release published on the CER’s website, the order stated that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project was not “properly addressing socioeconomic issues related to construction by not following its own Socio-Economic Effects Monitoring Plan.”
That plan was created to monitor impacts on communities during project construction.
“If the community is being negatively impacted, Trans Mountain must take steps to lessen impacts,” the release states.
During a review, a CER Inspection Officer and Indigenous Monitors determined that Trans Mountain was improperly incorporating qualitative data related to worker and local business accommodations in the North Thompson region of British Columbia. That determination was supported by direct community feedback to the CER.
“Companies must be proactive in managing socio-economic impacts during project construction.”
According to a recent article in the Rocky Mountain Goat newspaper, Valemount was home to approximately 2,000 Trans Mountain workers, which is twice the local population of around 1,000.
“Rents skyrocketed to $2,000/month per room, and up to approx. $8,000 for a house, with regular food shortages at the grocery store,” the article read.
Trans Mountain has until Aug. 4 to complete the actions listed in Table 5 of the Socio-Economic Effects Monitoring Plan [Filing A84618].
It must also provide a description of learnings related to monitoring and addressing the project-related socio-economic effects by Aug. 14 as well as provide a corrective action plan that includes how it will ensure qualitative data is included in future Socio-Economic Effects Monitoring Reports by Aug. 21.
The sanction is just one action in the CER’s “enforcement toolkit,” which includes warning letters and administrative monetary penalties.
In an email to the Fitzhugh, a Trans Mountain spokesperson indicated that they will be reviewing their workforce accommodation options and plans in Valemount.
“Since the order was issued in early July, Trans Mountain has since reached out to community members, accommodation providers and local authorities to gather information to respond to the CER Order,” the email read.
The CER release stated that it would continue following up with Trans Mountain to ensure that it follows the measures outlined in the Inspection Officer Order.
This is the first time that the CER has sanctioned Trans Mountain in the three years of the pipeline expansion construction project.
Trans Mountain’s most recent email newsletter update indicates that pipeline construction work from Valemount to Blue River is currently underway in phases along the pipeline right-of-way.
The Blue River Camp Community, which was operational until December 2022, accommodated up to 550 workers.
By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 26, 2023