SaskEnergy is proposing a sixth change to the route of its South Saskatoon Pipeline Project, in response to concerns of area residents.
A group known as the Friends of Beaver Creek Ecosystem, have launched a petition and opened a conversation with the premier because of a proposed pipeline route through Beaver Creek Conservation Area (BCCA).
But Dave Burdeniuk, Director of Government and Media Relations for SaskEnergy says, while a previous route may have followed a road through the BCCA, that’s no longer the case.
“We’re not going through the Beaver Creek Conservation Area,” Burdeniuk said. We’ve talked to the Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA), and they administer the BCCA. We have a letter of support from the MVA for the project.”
SaskEnergy wants the pipeline to service future growth in Saskatoon and east of Saskatoon. The new line will connect to existing pipelines at Vanscoy and Patience Lake.
Anytime SaskEnergy changes the route, they have a new set of landowners to work with. Burdeniuk said the latest route would not cross any land owned by Wally Hamm, an organic farmer in the area who recently spoke to media recently about his concerns.
Work on the pipeline is slated to begin in spring of 2018. “We have time. We don’t have to panic. But we don’t have endless time,” said Burdeniuk. “If we can reroute we will but at some point we do have to stop changing and say, ‘this is the best route’.”
SaskEnergy is into its third year of talking with landowners. Burdeniuk said in a few cases people have come on board when an alternate route through their land was proposed. “People do understand there is a greater need here.”
Ruth Gosselin lives in the organic valley in the area, and still has questions. She’s concerned about a break down in communication, mixed messages being delivered, sometimes through the media, the size of the setbacks, and ongoing concerns about the route.
“Going through our organic valley, certainly that’s a bad route,” said Gosselin. “I’ve been told so many different things, I won’t believe anything until I see it in writing.” She no longer knows whether the route will go through her land or not.
Residents also have concerns about what can go through the pipe. Burdeniuk said the only mandate SaskEnergy has is to transport gas, which will not change for the lifetime of the pipeline.
Some have asked what happens if the pipeline is abandoned. Landowners in other parts of Canada have run into issues where they had to handle abandonment costs, Burdeniuk said.
“If we ever do abandon a pipeline, if its not environmentally damaging, we would actually remove the pipeline. If it looks like it could damage the environment, we would simply cap it on either side, make sure its cleaned inside, and then seal it and leave it in place. We would never transfer those costs to the landowner.”
Landowners are compensated for the 30-metre corridor easement but not for the 10-metre setbacks on either side, Burdeniuk said. TranGas will try and keep the corridor and work space as narrow as possible, he said.
“If you’re doing normal ag practices, that can continue in the easement and the setback as well. You just can’t put a structure over top of it. If you’re putting up a fence or doing something else, other than putting up a structure, landowners now need our consent to do anything within 10 metres of the easement,” he said.
“Any landowner we’re negotiating with right now – we’re asking for that 30 metre easement, and the 10-metre setbacks on either side. That’s all we are legally entitled to ask for.”
Some residents suggested taking the pipeline through crown land further south. Another suggestion takes the route south of Dundurn. “This is a $55 to $60 million project depending on final routing. To go extreme south would mean probably adding another $50 million to the project which is not practical for us,” Burdeniuk said.