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Eastern Mainline pipeline routing process continues

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The process to determine the routing of 250 km of natural gas pipeline, a section of which could snake through Oshawa, is still ongoing, according to TransCanada and sources at the City of Oshawa.

TransCanada, the builders and future operators of the Eastern Mainline pipeline that will run from Markham to Iroquois, Ont., tell The Express the development and engineering phase of the project is still in the works and some adjustments may still need to be made.

“Based on ongoing discussions with customers regarding their requirements, we are proposing some scope adjustments in certain communities to meet customer demand,” says TransCanada spokesperson Sharan Kaur.

However, she adds none of these adjustments are proposed within Oshawa.

According to an emailed statement, Trans Canada will be looking to file an amendment to their project application with the National Energy Board (NEB) in December. Following that, construction is set to commence in early 2018 with facilities up and running by 2019, pending the NEB’s review process and approval.

During their June meeting, Oshawa city council endorsed TransCanada’s proposed route, which runs generally along the northern limit of Highway 407 through the city.

Paul Ralph, commissioner of development services, say the endorsement was a step to allow TransCanada to initiate contact with landowners along the new route after an original proposal, which saw the route running through environmentally sensitive land, was rejected.

“Before they started knocking on doors of property owners, they wanted to make sure that council was on board with that (new) route, so that when they knocked on the door, they could say council supports this route,” Ralph says.

According to council’s motion, staff have been authorized to continue working with TransCanada and that, “priority consideration be given to the route that goes south of the moraine on the east of Oshawa.”

While no changes are proposed along the Oshawa section, Ralph says TransCanada would return to council if any changes cropped up.

“I think TransCanada would come back to us and say, if we have to modify the alignment, they would come back to staff…it informs them of a modified route,” he says.

Along with the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA), the city is also awaiting word from the NEB as to what scope they will be allowed to comment on the process moving forward.

Applications to become commenters or interveners were filed in March, with the final decisions being made by the “middle of the year,” according to a previous statement from the NEB.