Coquitlam wants costs as Trans Mountain construction looms

Underground methane gas lines and recovering costs for work around the pipeline among the city's concerns as construction gets underway

Coquitlam has not given up the battle to get Trans Mountain to reimburse the city for $59 million in costs associated with construction along the route to Burnaby.

As the federally-owned company gears up for construction — expected to start on the Coquitlam segment of the route next spring or summer — city officials will be working to recover costs by working directly with the company through the permitting process and through lobbying efforts with the National Energy Board to get legislation changed to recognize costs.

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This week, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project announced an “immediate return to work” now that the project has been re-approved, giving contractors 30 days to “mobilize equipment and commence the process of hiring workers, procuring goods and services, and developing detailed construction work plans,” said a press release.

As many as 4,200 workers could be hired to work on the project, which stretches from Edmonton to Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.

But Coquitlam, which anticipates higher operating costs in the future when ever it does work along the pipeline route in the Pacific Reach industrial area of the city, is watching the project closely over the next several months.

“They have a contractor and they periodically call meetings with Trans Mountain staff and the contractor to give us updates and reviews of what they are planning to build,” said Dana Soong, manager of utility programs.

Recently, the city lost an NEB appeal to have the route changed to avoid the busy United Boulevard route. It anticipates, the cost would be $59 million over 50 years because of issues with pipes in the ground.

“When ever we do works in our street there will be additional costs when we have to do works around the pipeline,” Soong explained.

As well, the city is concerned about the impact of construction on a network of pipes that pump out methane gas from a former landfill site.

Soong said the pipes shouldn’t be disturbed, and while the city wouldn’t build on a former dump today, the landfill has been properly capped and is in no danger of collapsing.

“It has a fairly healthy cap of sand and gravel over top of it, but what we monitor is methane and that’s why the operation staff is working with Trans Mountain and the contractor to identify where we have monitoring wells where we have systems that try to vent the gas. We want to make sure the infrastructure is not disturbed by construction.”

Once the pipeline surfaces from the Fraser River, it will travel on Rogers and Hartley avenues and along United Boulevard before connecting up with the existing pipeline corridor to Burnaby.

Soong said the city is also working with the cities of Surrey, Langley and Burnaby to get legislation changed to recognize long term costs of building the pipeline under municipal streets so cities aren’t left out of pocket.

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