By Cam Fortems
Kamloops This Week
The head of Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing is expressing frustration with what he said is a lack of detail on the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Mike Wiegele is slated to make a presentation on Sept. 10 in Burnaby as part of hearings convened by the National Energy Board (NEB).
“We need to know when the project will take place,” said the founder of Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing based in Blue River. “It could kill us . . . You don’t want construction on your doorstep.”
The current Trans Mountain line runs directly through Wiegele’s resort beside the Yellowhead Highway in Blue River. He said guests who come for the experience — and can spend tens of thousands of dollars doing so — don’t want to see a construction site on their dream vacation.
Even construction during summer threatens to deter tourists who stay over en route between Alberta and Vancouver.
“Every day counts for us,” he said.
Carey Johannesson, lead for lands and right-of-way for Trans Mountain, said the corporation began discussions with Wiegele last year and has been in contact since.
While it is dealing with thousands of land owners along the proposed route to twin the pipeline, Johannesson said Wiegele is among a unique group due to his mix of fee-simple lands and Crown leases. Some ranchers are in the same position.
Still at play is the route and timing, which Johannesson pledged won’t be in Wiegele’s prime winter season.
“We’re going to be doing construction in summer,” he said.
Johannesson said representatives will meet with Wiegele next week to get into more detail about routing, timing and compensation. It has made a compensation offer on fee simple lands, but not on Crown lands where Wiegele has a licence for use.
“We’re still in the process of having that discussion,” Johannesson said.
Even if the project is approved in early 2016, construction permits are unlikely until the spring of next year.
Earlier this week, more than 30 people scheduled to make presentations to the NEB hearings next month pulled out, calling the process biased.
Wiegele said he believes the project will be beneficial overall to the province and country, but remains concerned about lack of detail from Kinder Morgan.
Johannesson said Wiegele’s property is unique, but his questions as a landowner are not, including about timing and what the project will look like when complete.
Johannesson said the company will provide more clarity in the coming months.
The original Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1953.
Trans Mountain is proposing an expansion of this existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby. The proposed expansion, if approved, would create a twinned pipeline that would increase the nominal capacity of the system from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.
The twinned line would come through Kamloops, with Kinder Morgan seeking to run it alongside an existing Telus right-of-way in the Lac Du Boise Grasslands Provincial Park above Westsyde.
Last summer, Kinder Morgan filed updated information with the National Energy Board, including an alternative corridor in the Kamloops area. Should the Ajax project receive all of its necessary regulatory approvals, both Trans Mountain’s existing pipeline and the proposed pipeline corridor would require relocation for the purposes of mine activities.
Kinder Morgan has identified an alternative pipeline corridor. Should the existing pipeline need to be relocated, it would undergo a separate regulatory process from the facilities application under consideration by the NEB for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.