Politics

Liberals launch next phase of engagement with Indigenous groups over Trans Mountain pipeline

The federal government has launched a new phase of engagement with Indigenous groups on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says all communities along the route will have opportunity to participate

Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project sits on rail cars at a stockpile site in Kamloops, B.C. The Liberal government is engaging Indigenous groups on the project. (Dennis Owen/Reuters)

The federal government has launched a new phase of engagement with Indigenous groups on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

In a news release Friday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the process will tap potential Indigenous groups interested in participating economically on the project. He also announced that Linda Coady, former chief sustainability officer for Enbridge, will chair an advisory committee of experts.

"The Trans Mountain Expansion Project presents a real economic opportunity for Canadians and for Indigenous communities," Morneau said in a statement. 

"With the approval of the project, we can begin discussions with the many communities that may be interested in becoming partners in getting Canada's natural resources to market. Our government looks forward to moving the project forward in a way that reflects our commitment to reconciliation."

The National Energy Board issued a certificate for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on June 21, just days after it was approved by the federal government.

At the time, Ian Anderson, CEO of the Crown corporation building the pipeline expansion, said shovels could be in the ground by September and oil could be flowing in the new pipeline by mid 2022.

The 1,150-kilometre expansion project would double the potential amount of oil that could travel along the existing route from Alberta to the B.C. coast. 

Indigenous groups express interest

After many delays and a successful court challenge, the federal government bought the project for $4.5 billion last year, with the plan to sell it to a private company.

When the government approved the project June 18, several Indigenous groups expressed interest in partnering in the project.

According to the release from Morneau's office, all communities along the pipeline route will have an opportunity to participate.

Last month, the minister sent letters to the 129 potentially impacted Indigenous communities. The government has also invited Indigenous groups to participate in talks that will take place in Ottawa, Victoria, Vancouver, Kamloops, and Edmonton this month.

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