Construction has begun on the biggest project in Enbridge’s history, and local community leaders are ready for the financial benefits it will bring.
The Canadian portion of the Line 3 Replacement Project replaces just over 1,000 kilometres of existing pipe from Hardisty, Alberta to Gretna. Enbridge estimates that the project will create around 3,824 jobs in the province, with that total reaching around 24,494 temporary full-time positions across the country, which will add $2.87 billion to Canada’s GDP.
A fund created to fund locally driven projects has already helped fund projects in the Winkler-Morden area, including a pathway, a new playground, an outdoor classroom and operating equipment for Boundary Trails Health Centre Foundation.
“The Line 3 project will provide a welcome economic boost to our local economies, and the investments Enbridge has made to our region are a nice bonus on top of that,” Morden mayor Ken Wiebe said. “These contributions met a number of our needs and support enhancements in the delivery of emergency service, recreation facilities… and healthcare facilities in the region. These things that Enbridge has invested in over the last while are very welcome by our communities and are very much appreciated.”
Wiebe said Enbridge has kept the city and R.M. informed of their plans from the beginning. “They have come to our communities and held regular meetings, not only with councils and community managers, but with the citizens of the communities,” he said. “That is so very appreciated by the citizens of all three municipalities.”
Wiebe recognized the need for oil in the Winkler-Morden area. “We’re an agricultural community, we rely on oil,” Wiebe said. “Until something better comes along I believe that oil is best transported through pipe in the ground. It is the safest way to do it. This project is going to prove that once again.”
Line 3 Project Execution vice president Leo Golden said this project has marked the largest community engagement project in Enbridge’s history. “To date we’ve recorded more than 26,000 discussions with interested parties in Canada alone,” he said. “We have agreements with over 95 indigenous communities and organizations.”
Golden said Enbridge made efforts to identify issues that concerned communities and make changes, including planning to invest around $250 million with indigenous communities. The investments include contracting, training and community sustainability initiatives.
The project is also one of the largest industrial projects in the country. Line 3 Project Execution vice president Leo Golden said that number can be difficult to understand, but at peak it will equate to $10-15 million invested per day into the region.
Of course, the pipeline hasn’t come without its share of controversy. A protest camp of ‘land defenders’ is set up near a construction site in Gretna. Organizer Geraldine McManus has said the camp plans to stay put until the project is shut down.
Golden said Enbridge has invested in making sure the pipeline is safe. “First and foremost this project is about enhancing the safety and integrity of infrastructure that is critical to the functioning of our society,” he said. “Much like a highway, a bridge or an airport, this infrastructure is required for the country.”
Minister of Metis Employment and Training with the Manitoba Metis Federation John Fleury said MMF will be an active part of the monitoring process, and will have environmental monitors working directly with Enbridge. “We are guardians of this land and we have a responsibility to ensure the environment is protected,” he said. “Instead of waiting for a report to come to the Metis government, we will actually be on the ground to immediately make an assessment… that all the safety and environmental impacts have been taken seriously and been addressed by Enbridge.”
“It is going to happen with or without us,” Fleury added. “It is best that we be a part to monitor as much and protect as much as possible.”