The federal government is holding off on making a decision on a pipeline project in the Grande Prairie area. Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan says the COVID-19 pandemic has gotten in the way of its ability to properly consult with Indigenous peoples on NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd.’s 2021 System Expansion Project.
“Due to health and safety guidelines and concerns related to the pandemic, Phase III consultations have faced delays, and some Indigenous groups have requested additional time so that they may fully participate in Crown consultations on NGTL 2021.”
The project includes roughly 344 kilometres of natural gas pipeline in eight loops, as well as three additional compressor station units. It would start near Grande Prairie and end just north of Calgary. Most of the land used is next to existing rights of ways and facilities.
In February, the Canada Energy Regulator concluded that the project is in the public interest and recommended it be approved, with 34 conditions. O’Regan notes that a decision can only be made by the federal government if it fulfil its constitutional duty to meaningfully consult with Indigenous peoples.
“We want good projects to move forward. We know from experience that good projects can only move forward with stability and certainty when we get the process right.”
The timeline has now been moved so a decision on the expansion can be made no later than October 19, 2020.