Public input wanted re: Coastal GasLink

Burns Lake residents hoping for a detailed look at the proposed route for the Coastal GasLink pipeline project were a little disappointed.

Burns Lake residents take the opportunity to look over the most recent route plan for the Coastal GasLink pipeline project during an Environment Assessment Office open house in Burns Lake on March 19

Burns Lake residents take the opportunity to look over the most recent route plan for the Coastal GasLink pipeline project during an Environment Assessment Office open house in Burns Lake on March 19

Burns Lake residents hoping for a detailed look at the proposed route for the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project were left a little disappointed last Tuesday, but at least the province had people on hand to hear about it.

On March 19, 2013, the  B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) held a public open house at the Burns Lake Heritage Centre. The open house was a formal part of the environmental assessment process now in its pre-application stage.

Pre-application means that the parameters of a required environmental assessment for the pipeline project are still being established. Public comment will form a part of the permanent record of the process. It will also inform that process.

The current period for public comment started on March 11, 2013 and will end April 10, 2013. A second public comment period will open after the pre-application process has been completed and the formal application review has begun.

Anyone who wants their opinions or concerns considered and recorded do not have to attend an open house. Comment forms can be accessed and filed through www.eao.gov.bc.ca. Copies of the application are also available to view at all public libraries in the Bulkley Nechako Regional District.

Representatives from both the EAO and TransCanada were on hand to facilitate the process. Attendees filled out forms that will be scanned and posted to the EAO website within seven days of being received.

Some Bald Hill Rd. residents, just south of Burns Lake, were hoping to find out exactly where the pipeline would be routed. Current plans indicate that it would likely cross private property in the area.

According to representatives of both the EAO and TransCanada, that kind of detailed information isn’t available yet. Detailed engineering is beyond the scope of this stage of the assessment process.

Disappointment on the part of Bald Hill Rd. residents was mitigated by the co-operation they had been receiving from TransCanada regarding route planning. There was cautious optimism that TransCanada would take seriously the concerns that private property owners had in the Burns Lake area.

Field work for the project has been underway throughout Northern B.C. since January, 2013. Fisheries and aquatics studies have been taking place along a 114 km section of the proposed route north of Prince George and at a 70 km section of the route near Kitimat.

Spring field work will be underway once ground conditions allow for it. Details of where that work will take place will become available in April.

The pipeline project proposes a 650 km natural gas pipeline stretching from Dawson Creek to a proposed liquid natural gas export facility near Kitimat. The four-foot diameter pipeline would have an initial capacity of 1.7 billion cubic feet per day, with the capacity to transport up to five billion cubic feet per day.

Coastal GasLink is one of three natural gas pipeline projects at various stages of exploration in Northern B.C. The Pacific Trails Pipeline project has already received its environmental assessment certificate, and the Spectra BG Group also has a pipeline proposed that is in its pre-application stage with the EAO.

The environmental assessment process will not be complete before 2014, at the earliest.