The Canadian government is set to become the official owner of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion after Kinder Morgan failed to secure an alternate buyer after the initial offer from Ottawa. Kinder Morgan had been actively seeking to find an alternate buyer with a deadline of July 22nd.
The sale of the expansion includes existing pipeline infrastructures, pumping stations and rights of way as well as the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby. The purchase is expected to be approved by August or September 2018.
In an interview with the CBC, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that the purchase of the pipeline by the Canadian government is being done “in a way that allows us to consider how we move that to the private sector… in order to get it done, we are buying the assets now so that we can deal with this interprovincial dispute between British Columbia and Alberta.”
Investors such as Indigenous groups and pension funds have already expressed interest, he said.
The CBC said a senior government official disclosed that it had hoped to get a commercial buyer. Since a commercial buyer was not found by the July 22 deadline, the Canadian government will put up the 4.5 billion (Canadian / 3.45 U.S.)
Opposers to the pipeline have been vocal about opposition to the purchase. The $3.45 billion ($4.5 billion Canadian) purchase does not include construction costs of building a new pipeline, that will cost an estimated $7.4 billion Canadian.
Canadian Finance Minister spokesperson, Daniel Lauzon, said Ottawa still intends to sell the pipeline after the initial purchase, as it is in the best interests of Canadians."We have no interest in being a long-term owner of a pipeline, but we will be the temporary caretaker," Lauzon told The Canadian Press on Sunday.
News of the failure to find an alternate buyer came one day after protesters to the Trans Mountain pipeline assembled on Parliament Hill in hazardous-materials suits while carrying a fake pipeline.
Opposers to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion -- which will be a roughly 715-mile (1,150 kilometer) pipeline parallel to the original that will carry unrefined oil products from Edmonton to Burnaby, and will triple the original pipeline’s capacity to an estimated 890,000 barrels a day -- have been furious at the expansion in the light of environmental strains due to Oil Sands extraction.
Opposers to the Trans Mountain pipeline have set up organized protests at Kinder Morgan Burnaby Terminal as well as setting up a fashioned community at labeled #CampCloud. The camp at Burnaby created for a place for opposers to gather, has since turned from one trailer on the side of the road to a series of semi-permanent structures created by members of the camp.
Approximately 20 people have lived at the site for the past several months. Camp Cloud was erected at Shellmont Street and Underhill Avenue in November 2017 as a gathering point for people opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. City of Burnaby officials delivered an eviction order for protestors to vacate the camp on Saturday, but the protestors have remained.
Kwitsel Tatel, a Coast Salish woman who speaks for the camp, told CBC News that the eviction notice was wrongfully issued without proper consultation and consideration, and the group will not be leaving.
"Camp Cloud will not be evicted. We are the Coast Salish and unceded other tribal groups of so-called British Columbia and people from all four directions [are] exercising our rights guided by we, the Coast Salish," Tatel said to CBC.
The notice says that if the camp is still standing on Saturday — including tents, a shower, and a two-story wooden building — the city will take action and have it removed. As of Saturday afternoon, the city had not taken any action against Camp Cloud. The city told CBC they are consulting with lawyers. Protestors say they have the legal right to stay.
Protestors believe arrests will be mounting
As the Canadian government continues to press forward, protest organizers say they believe arrests will be in the several hundreds. Some even suspect the numbers could be higher than the over 800 protestors arrested, who fought against logging in Clayoquot Sound over two decades ago. Others are calling the potential protests against the Trans Mountain pipeline Standing Rock 2.0.
Currently protestors arrested face seven to 14 days in jail and a fine of $500. Those who cannot afford to pay will be tasked with community service.
Tzeporah Berman, director of www.Stand.earth, is helping to organize blockades on Burnaby Mountain with the Indigenous group Coast Protectors. Berman told the CBC there are times when people must stand up, no matter the penalties."I feel that this is one of those moments.”
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling