‘It takes a community to build a pipeline’

Line 3 Replacement Program sets a new standard of engagement and local inclusion

Sociologists and educators have long understood that “it takes a village to raise a child.”

Within Enbridge, it has become accepted wisdom that “it takes a community to build a pipeline.”

The importance of community was a recurring theme from Enbridge Vice Presidents Leo Golden and Dave Lawson during media events in Morden, Manitoba on Aug. 16 and White City, Saskatchewan on Aug. 20 to mark the beginning of final-phase construction of the Line 3 Replacement Program (L3RP) in Canada.

Dignitaries who spoke at the events included landowner and business groups, First Nation and Métis leaders, and elected officials from municipal, provincial and federal governments. The latter group was represented in Manitoba by new Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and in Saskatchewan by Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

“The people gathered here—from all orders of government and many different walks of life—represent a remarkable consensus, and together we are celebrating a significant milestone,” Goodale said. “The outreach undertaken by Enbridge with Indigenous organization leaders and communities and with so many others has been enormously important and, obviously, well done.”

Offered Sohi: “This is the most inclusive approach that we have seen, with the involvement of local communities and . . . Indigenous leadership. This project will allow all of them to . . . reap the benefits.”

At an estimated cost of $5.3 billion for the Canadian portion alone, the L3RP is the largest capital project in Enbridge’s history. As such, and given the inclusive nature of modern pipeline projects, it also represents the largest and most broadly based community engagement ever undertaken by Enbridge.

Since the L3RP was announced, Enbridge has recorded more than 26,700 engagements with interested parties, resulting in the support of 100% of right-of-way landowners and CAEPLA (the Canadian Association of Energy Pipeline Landowners Associations), as well as agreements covering 95 Indigenous communities and groups.

One such community is the Birdtail Sioux First Nation near Virden, MB. The community of 2,000 people has created its own company, Birdtail Inclusive, to work on the L3RP.

“We’ve got 22 young men and women now being mobilized to work, so we’re very happy,” said Chief Ken Chalmers. “That income coming back home creates self-esteem and they are now off those welfare rolls and they are now contributing to their families.”

Engagement efforts have also focused on right-of-way communities like the fast-growing cities of Morden and Winkler and the Rural Municipality of Stanley near the Manitoba-Minnesota border.

Speaking on behalf of the three jurisdictions, Morden Mayor Ken Wiebe said, “Right from the get-go, Enbridge has kept us informed—they have come to our communities and held regular meetings, not only with councils and with community managers, but also with our citizens. That is so very much appreciated by the citizens of all three municipalities.”

Echoed Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce: “Our relationship with Enbridge has been stellar. We’ve connected them with local chambers and we’ve seen nothing but positive results from those interactions.”

While Indigenous and local community inclusion is critical, equally so is the support of directly affected landowners, many of whom are CAEPLA members.

“I can tell you that the National Energy Board uses the Line 3 project as their standard for other companies right now, to say ‘Why can’t you do things like this?’ ” says Dave Core, now the organization’s Director of Special Projects.

“It was a matter of overcoming barriers that we had a number of years between landowners and companies over respective property rights, expropriation, et cetera,” Core adds. “We knew Enbridge, Al Monaco and his team and both parties knew we needed to do things differently to make the Line 3 project the most important and successful pipeline project in Canada—and we’ve done that.”

(TOP PHOTO: Enbridge’s Leo Golden, left, discusses Line 3 with Manitoba (Morden-Winkler) MLA Cam Friesen.)