A $2.3-billion gas pipeline that will stretch from west of Red Deer to Grande Prairie has received federal approval.
The TC Energy project will create up to 2,920 jobs and contribute about $1.2 billion to Alberta’s GDP.
The pipeline will add 344 kilometres to the existing NOVA Gas Transmission system from the Rocky Mountain House area to near Grande Prairie.
It’s being built to provide natural gas producers and shippers greater access to domestic and U.S. markets.
“It’s absolutely great news” for central Alberta, said Reg Warkentin, policy adviser for the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce.
“This should provide significant benefits — and we need every little bit of economic boost we can get.”
According to TC Energy’s website, the project will provide employment for equipment operators, welders, mechanics, truck drivers, labourers and other fields.
Pipeline construction will create demand for local goods and services, including food, accommodation, hardware, industrial and automotive parts and servicing, and fuel.
The project will also provide tax revenues to three levels of government.
While most of the jobs are expected to be short term, lasting during next year’s construction phase, Warkentin hopes some longer-term employment will result at regional ethylene plants, with the pipeline ensuring a steady, consistent supply of gas.
At a time when Alberta’s energy exports to foreign markets have been stymied by pipeline capacity issues, finding more value-added gas processing opportunities in the province makes sense, he added.
Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said the new pipeline will help with the phase out of coal-fired electricity by 2030.
“We want good projects to get done, moving our natural resources to new markets and creating good jobs,” said O’Regan, adding government approval of the project was based on science, Indigenous knowledge and public interest.
“This means meeting our duty to meaningfully consult with potentially impacted Indigenous communities and addressing risks to the environment and species at risk.”
NOVA Gas Transmissions Ltd., based in Calgary, must comply with 35 conditions related to safety, environmental and wildlife protection, Indigenous engagement, and protection of Indigenous rights and interest.
As part of its approval conditions, the company will have to restore 3,840 hectares of caribou habitat (30 times the size of the habitat impacted by the project) and establish an Indigenous working group to assist with the planning for restoration and monitoring for the protection of the Little Smoky Caribou range.