The National Energy Board has issued three decisions for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion approving the tunnel route through Burnaby, B.C., and allowing construction to begin on a tunnel entrance.
The board says it is granting relief for pre-construction conditions on Trans Mountain property at the Westridge Marine Terminal where the Burnaby Mountain tunnel portal will be located.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan has vowed that the route will never be approved because of the damage and disruption it would cause his city, but the board says the location of the tunnelled portion of the pipeline minimizes effects on residents and the environment.
The construction at the terminal is still subject to federal, provincial and municipal permits, but the board says allowing the work to begin now would avoid potential impacts on migratory birds that use the area later in the spring.
The energy board says that 56 per cent of the route has been approved so far, but construction won’t be authorized for the remainder of the line until all conditions are met.
The pipeline, which would nearly triple oil-shipping capacity from Alberta to the West Coast, is also facing political and legal hurdles as environmentalists and B.C.’s New Democrat government fight against the project.