Fort McMurray, Alta. – Several First Nations and Metis communities are continuing their push to purchase an equity stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project even though a court ruling halted construction and has potentially set the project back considerably.
The Federal Court of Appeal ruling blocked the federal government’s approval of the project primarily due to a need to consult more deeply with Aboriginal groups along the pipeline route.
Indigenous groups in Fort McMurray insist they want a chance to invest in the project and believe the ruling creates an opportunity for them to do so.
“There are no shortcuts when it comes to consultation,” said Brad Callihoo, chief executive officer of the Fort McMurray #468 First Nation. “(The ruling) identifies an issue that needs to be addressed. The system is broken when it comes to consultation and we need to fix it.”
Canada has purchased the existing Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion and pledged to complete the expansion project, which would triple the line’s capacity to 890,000 barrels of oil a day. Thirty-three First Nations in B.C. signed mutual-benefits agreements with Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. before the expansion was taken over by the federal government. Among those is the Cheam First Nation, and its Chief Ernie Crey, who has also expressed interest in buying a stake.