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Alberta welcomes federal approval of gas pipeline expansion while criticizing delay

Last Updated Oct 20, 2020 at 12:29 pm MST

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on February 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

CALGARY — The Alberta government is welcoming news that Ottawa has approved an expansion of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. gathering system in Alberta — while condemning federal delays that it says cost this summer’s construction season.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan says the $2.3-billion expansion was approved by the government as part of a “commitment to moving forward with good projects.”

In a release, he says the federal government strengthened five conditions proposed by the Canada Energy Regulator and added one new condition, with the changes aimed at better addressing Indigenous rights and mitigating construction impacts on caribou habitat.

He says the pipeline division owned by Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. will now be required to restore 3,840 hectares of caribou habitat, an area 30 times the size of the habitat impacted by the project, and an Indigenous working group is to be formed to assist with the restoration and monitoring plan.

The project is expected to create up to 2,920 direct jobs during construction, the federal release said, while adding 344 kilometres of new pipeline to the existing Nova system from west of Red Deer in central Alberta to near Grande Prairie in the northwestern part of the province.

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage says the expansion is a “key infrastructure project” for the province’s natural gas industry.

“Despite months of delay, we are pleased the federal government has approved this key infrastructure project, which will create significant economic benefits and good jobs for Albertans, at a time they are needed the most,” she said.

“The project was expected to be under construction this summer but, as a result of delays by Ottawa, the bulk of construction is not expected to get underway until 2021.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2020.

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The Canadian Press