60% of Albertans support Ottawa's Trans Mountain pipeline purchase, poll suggests

About 60 per cent of Albertans support Ottawa’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, a new poll suggests.

CBC News survey also suggests most Albertans don't believe $7.4B project will be built by 2020

Ottawa's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project has backing of six in 10 Albertans, a CBC News poll suggests. (CBC)

About 60 per cent of Albertans support Ottawa's decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, a new poll suggests.

The federal government announced at the end of May it had reached a deal with Kinder Morgan Canada to purchase the pipeline and related infrastructure for $4.5 billion, and that it could spend billions more to build the controversial expansion.

The poll conducted for CBC News suggests that six in 10 Albertans support Ottawa's decision to buy the pipeline, including 29 per cent who strongly support the deal and 31 per cent who somewhat support it.

A little over one-third (36 per cent) of Albertans oppose the purchase, and four per cent say they are unsure.

Support for the purchase sits at 68 per cent in Edmonton, 54 per cent in Calgary and 56 per cent in the rest of Alberta.

The random survey of 900 Albertans was conducted between June 12 and June 19. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The poll suggests that 60 per cent of Albertans believe the expansion will ultimately go ahead, but that it won't be done by its scheduled completion date of 2020.

One in five Albertans thinks it will be finished on schedule or ahead of schedule. Just over one in 10 believe it will never be finished.

Calgary-based pollster Janet Brown says her survey for CBC News suggests Albertans remain supportive of the Trans Mountain project, but are uncomfortable with how the sale to Ottawa came about. (CBC)

Albertans who are most firmly against the federal government's decision to purchase the pipeline are most likely to believe it will never be finished, at almost four in 10.

Pollster Janet Brown, who conducted the survey for CBC News, says the numbers seem to reflect Albertans' misgivings about how events have unfolded.

"I think people are saying like, 'Yeah we like the pipeline. But maybe we're not so comfortable with the … way the final sale to the federal government was handled.'"

Brown thinks Albertans would be much more comfortable with the private sector expanding the pipeline.  

It's a view shared by some who work in the energy industry.  

The view from the oil patch

When he bought the pipeline in the spring, Finance Minister Bill Morneau heralded it as a good deal — and in the best interest of Canadians.

But global energy portfolio manager Rafi Tahmazian says the federal government should have never let things deteriorate to the point where they had to buy the pipeline.

Rafi Tahmazian, a Calgary-based global energy portfolio manager, says the federal government should have never let things deteriorate to the point where they had to buy the pipeline. (Justin Pennell / CBC)

"I would say the vast majority of Canadians should say we need to keep this in the private sector — do what it takes to do that," said Tahmazian, who's with Calgary-based Canoe Financial.

Tahmazian thinks most Albertans have simply been left with little choice. They would prefer to see a private company expand the pipeline, but since that's unlikely, the federal government's purchase is preferable to it not happening at all.