Fort McMurray mayor to put pipeline delays on agenda as Trudeau visits Alberta city

When Justin Trudeau arrives in Fort McMurray on Friday morning, he’ll hear from Mayor Don Scott, who says he's "greedy for the future" of the Wood Buffalo region, and will urge the prime minister to do more to get pipelines built.

Don Scott says he may pitch a pipeline summit to PM, who is touring Western Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, shown Thursday in Victoria meeting with Canadian coast guard members to discuss marine safety and spill prevention, is on a tour of Western Canada. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

While Justin Trudeau is in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Friday morning, Mayor Don Scott plans to tell the prime minister he needs to do more to get oilsands pipelines built without delay.

"I'm greedy for this region and I am greedy for the future of this region," Scott, mayor of the municipality of Wood Buffalo,  told a Thursday news conference to announce federal transit funding for the region. "The [pipeline] process has started, but there's obviously delays."

Trudeau will tour Suncor's new Fort Hills oilsands facility — the newest and one of the largest oilsands projects in the region — then hold meetings with energy sector officials and Indigenous leaders. 

The Fort McMurray stop follows a Thursday visit to Victoria and Vancouver, where Trudeau focused on clean technology and oil spill protection.

Pipelines continue to be a divisive issue in Western Canada. 

The Liberal government approved the Enbridge Line 3 and Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipelines in 2016. 

But Kinder Morgan protesters have held daily demonstrations attempting to stop work from going ahead. ​Work is underway on Enbridge's Line 3 replacement, but the pipeline has yet to receive construction permits in Manitoba or regulatory permits in the United States.

Critics worry pipeline spills and their construction will raise greenhouse gas emissions another 200 million tonnes a year by 2030.

Is pipeline summit in the pipeline?

At the Thursday news conference where it was announced the Wood Buffalo region would receive $17,905,869 for transit improvements, Scott said he'll meet Trudeau on Friday afternoon.

(The transit money comes from a pot of $3.3 billion that Ottawa announced to Alberta on Tuesday.)

Mayor Don Scott, right, watches federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi deliver a transit funding announcement in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Thursday. Scott later said he would press Justin Trudeau on Friday to do more to get oilsands pipelines built without delay. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Scott said he will ask Trudeau if there's anything the municipality can do to help expedite pipeline building. One idea, he said, might be for Fort McMurray to host a pipeline summit that brings the opposing sides together. 

Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, who was also on hand at the Thursday announcement, said the Liberal government has done more than any other government to get Alberta's bitumen to tidewater.

Sohi also said both Enbridge Line 3 and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain are either under construction or receiving their last permits.

He said Trudeau has been unwavering in his support for pipelines.

"He's stood in front of close to 1,500 people in B.C. and strongly stated this pipeline is going to be built, and this pipeline will be built." 

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook and Twitter, or email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca


David Thurton

Senior reporter, Parliamentary Correspondent

David Thurton is a senior reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He covers daily politics in the nation’s capital and specializes in environment and energy policy. Born in Canada but raised in Trinidad and Tobago, he’s moved around more times than he can count. He’s worked for CBC in several provinces and territories, including Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

With files from The Canadian Press