Trans Mountain Expansion Project 2016
Trans Mountain committed to reclaiming all disturbed riparian habitat and instream habitat to, or trending
towards, pre-construction functionality. Trans Mountain said that it is committed to monitoring these areas,
post-construction, to evaluate the effectiveness of reclamation based on a comparison of post-construction
conditions to pre-construction conditions.
Participants raised concerns or made recommendations regarding Trans Mountain’s proposed watercourse
crossing methods, mitigation measures, reclamation, and post-construction monitoring. Salmon River
Enhancement Society indicated that the best way to mitigate impacts on fish and fish habitat from Project
construction is to implement trenchless crossing methods. It further noted that the B.C. Oil and Gas
Commission recommends trenchless methods as a means of protecting watercourses of high fish value.
Fisheries Act authorizations
In order to identify which crossings could result in serious harm and may likely require authorization under
paragraph 35(2)(b) of the
Fisheries Act
, Trans Mountain conducted a self-assessment of the potential
for serious harm to fish
which evaluated the risk from proposed watercourse construction activities.
The results of Trans Mountain’s self-assessment indicated that numerous proposed primary (26) and
contingency watercourse crossings (46), predominately timed to occur outside of least-risk windows, were
of high risk for serious harm. It committed to obtaining
Fisheries Act
authorizations when they are required,
which would include measures to offset any residual serious harm, as well as potential specific monitoring
requirements. Trans Mountain indicated that the types of offset measures would include habitat restoration
and/or enhancement, habitat creation, biological or chemical manipulations, and/or complementary
measures, including research-based projects, as defined in DFO’s hierarchy of preferences. It noted that any
Fish and Fish Habitat Offset Plan would be designed in consultation with regulators, fisheries managers,
Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders, and with specific consideration for the guiding principles outlined
DFO’s Fisheries Productivity Investment Policy: A Proponents Guide to Offsetting
DFO indicated that the
Applications for Authorization under Paragraph 35(2)(b) of the Fisheries Act Regulations
establishes the time limits, totalling 150 days, within which the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the
Canadian Coast Guard must decide whether to issue a paragraph 35(2)(b) authorization, or refuse to do
so. DFO also said that when considering the potential issuance of a
Fisheries Act
authorization for a work(s),
undertaking(s) or activity(ies) which may adversely affect asserted or established Aboriginal or Treaty
rights, DFO would undertake consultation with potentially affected Aboriginal groups.
Salmon River Enhancement Society said that Trans Mountain’s self-assessment failed to quantify
the extent of serious harm to fish and fish habitat properly, and also questioned the adequacy of the
information used to support the self-assessment, including a lack of site-specific crossing locations
and mitigation. Participants also raised concerns about Trans Mountain’s self assessment of potential
serious harm in reference to riparian habitat, and said that Trans Mountain had not properly considered
riparian habitat under the
Fisheries Act
. Trans Mountain said that removal of riparian vegetation may
constitute serious harm if it has a limiting effect on the productive capacity of the watercourse, and if its
removal or disturbance represents a potential influence on fish communities. Trans Mountain said that
its understanding is based on precedent (i.e., previous DFO determinations on similar projects) and a
professional working understanding of the
Fisheries Act
and the associated policies and processes.
Trans Mountain used both field and desktop exercises to determine fish and fish habitat at proposed
crossing locations. Trans Mountain said that 95 per cent of the potential watercourses crossings identified
along the pipeline corridor had been investigated by a qualified fish biologist, with many sites receiving
multiple seasons of sampling. PIPE UP critiqued the watercourse crossing assessments by Trans Mountain,
identified information gaps, and proposed a fish sampling program. Trans Mountain said that the fish and
fish habitat data collection is more than adequate to support an environmental assessment and permitting
for pipeline construction and operation, as per provincial and federal regulatory requirements and
industry standards.
57 For the purposes of the
Fisheries Act
, serious harm to fish is defined as the death of fish or any permanent alteration to, or destruction of, fish habitat.