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Cedar LNG floats plan for shorter pipeline

New route will consume small portion of Kitimat covenant area
Cedar LNG proposes to use an unauthorized road in a Kitimat covenant area for a new pipeline route. Cedar LNG illustration

Cedar LNG is poised to pay $111,000 to the District of Kitimat to use one hectare of land protected under an environmental covenant, allowing the company to vastly shorten the length of its pipeline through municipal areas. In the process, Cedar believes it will help reduce the pipeline’s environmental and community impacts that worry stakeholders.

The original pipeline route was planned to follow the Coastal GasLink right-of-way from the metering station on the easternmost edge of Kitimat to its delivery point 10 km west through town.

The revised plan proposes a new metering station inside the LNG Canada facility, reducing the pipeline’s length to just 1.1 km. This plan would eliminate the need for crossing the Kitimat River, as well as right-of-ways through old forests, the Strawberry Meadows neighbourhood and a Haisla cultural site, factors that had raised concerns with the district, Kitimat residents and the Haisla Nation.

“This was inconsistent with the Haisla and Cedar LNG commitment to the environment,” said Cedar LNG spokesperson Josh Miller in an address to Kitimat council Dec. 18.

“So, in an effort to find an environmentally sound solution to these environmental impacts, we’ve been working with Coastal Gaslink, LNG Canada and the Haisla Nation to develop an alternative pipeline route.”

However, a key aspect of the new route requires crossing through a Covenant on land owned by LNG Canada on west bank of the Kitimat River. The covenant was established in 1984 with Ocelot Industries as a greenbelt and recreation area to protect its natural state.

A pipeline would normally violate this covenant, but upon investigation, district staff discovered the site had already been disturbed with a dirt road and several structures against the bunt wall with the LNG Canada site.

It’s unclear who originally disturbed the land, but it is believed to have occurred decades ago.

Cedar LNG asked council to modify the covenant to use as much of that disturbance footprint as possible for the pipeline’s construction, in part expanding the road’s eight-metre width to 15 metres to accommodate the right of way.

Including existing disturbances, the proposal calls for the reduction of the covenant area from 6.5 hectares to 5.4 hectares, to be shaved off its western edge.

In exchange for the disposition of that 1.1 hectare, Cedar LNG is offering the district $111,343, which would be channeled into the Ecological Restoration Reserve Fund.

Council voted unanimously in favour of a motion to support the plan on the condition of issuing a public notice, per the community charter, and providing public comments raise no substantial issues by the Jan. 15 council meeting.

The proposal also received approval from the sparse public showing at the Dec. 18 meeting, including Gillian Mullins, the director of the Kitimat Valley Naturalists. Mullins stressed she was not speaking on their behalf, as holiday scheduling had prevented the group from discussing the matter officially.

“In no way do I not support what is happening,” she said. “I really appreciate that Cedar LNG is looking at a much more environmentally friendly process.”

She added, however, that the disturbed land on the covenant raises several concerns, particularly as to how the contraventions could have occurred for a prolonged period of time without the district’s knowledge.

“I feel there’s been insufficient oversight and responses to covenants. Covenants are supposed to be very serious and thoughtful uses of land.”

Kitimat’s communications manager, Cameron Orr, told the Northern Sentinel the district is now working to rectify the situation.

“The disturbance noted in the covenant area goes back a number of years, to previous industrial landowners in that area. The area may have been first disturbed a few decades ago, we’re not precisely sure,” Orr said.

“That said, we’re aware that the disturbed area continues to be used by the current landowner and through this covenant modification process we are looking to bringing everyone into compliance.”

Cedar LNG proposes to use an unauthorized road in a Kitimat covenant area for a new pipeline route. Cedar LNG photo Cedar LNG proposes to use an unauthorized road in a Kitimat covenant area for a new pipeline route. Cedar LNG photo

About the Author: Quinn Bender

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