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Ottawa approves Grande Prairie area pipeline expansion

A pipeline project in the Grande Prairie area has been given the green light from the federal government. Ottawa has approved NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd.’s 2021 System Expansion Project, with 35 conditions.

A decision had been expected earlier this year but Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan delayed it, saying the COVID-19 pandemic had gotten in the way of its ability to properly consult with Indigenous peoples.

“We want good projects to get done, moving our natural resources to new markets and creating good jobs. This means meeting our duty to meaningfully consult with potentially impacted Indigenous communities and addressing risks to the environment and species at risk, particularily [sic]. By taking the time to do the hard work, good projects are being built in Canada.”

The $2.3 billion 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.

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In February, the Canada Energy Regulator concluded that the project is in the public interest and recommended it be approved, with 34 conditions. The Government of Canada notes it changed the conditions related to caribou and Indigenous engagement.

Five proposed conditions were “strengthened” one was added. NGTL will have to restore 3,840 hectares of caribou habitat, which is 30 times the size of the habitat impacted by the project. It will also have to work to put together an Indigenous Working Group to create a restoration for restoration and monitoring for the protection of the Little Smoky Caribou range.

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