Gas pipeline worries Sask. landowners

Landowners south of Saskatoon are concerned about a natural gas pipeline being proposed to run through a populated area that also includes organic production.

Wally Hamm, speaking on behalf of the Friends of the Beaver Creek Ecosystem, said the route must go further south than TransGas has proposed.

He also said the corporation must change its easement.

The 60 kilometre line would run from near Vanscoy to Patience Lake to tie into existing facilities, according to TransGas spokesperson Casey MacLeod.

“It’s needed to support the growing need for natural gas in the city of Saskatoon as well as in all the surrounding areas that are being developed so quickly,” she said.

The line was proposed several years ago and open houses were held in 2014 and 2015. Construction is set to start next summer.

There are six proposed routes and Hamm said the corporation should look at the fifth and sixth options, which were presented to landowners at the end of April.

“One, two, three and four are all through highly populated sensitive ideal acreage development,” he said. “Six, in particular, is better. It goes south of Dundurn military camp, stays away from populated areas and fits the city growth plan.”

But the cost of the line would nearly double from $62 million to $112 million. Choosing route five would add $8 million to the first figure and eliminate 90 percent of landowner concerns, Hamm said.

“We’re asking them to do the right thing,” he said.

The second issue for landowners is the TransGas easement they are required to sign.

“That easement is draconian,” Hamm said. “They’ve used it for decades. This is the 21st century. We need farmers’ rights spelled out specifically in that easement.”

Hamm said the easement de-scribes all of Trans Gas’s rights and none for farmers. For example, he said there is a clause that requires landowners to apply for approval to put anything across the easement on their own land.

He said compensation for crop loss in the event of an incident should be included. He also asked why the easement refers to elements other than natural gas.

“They can transport anything under the sun,” he said.

But MacLeod said the easement mentions there could be small amounts of elements other than natural gas due to maintenance.

“It references trace amounts of things like greases and stuff from our valves at certain stations and other small minor amounts of other substances that are found in any natural gas pipeline,” she said. “That’s just to make sure that we’re being transparent. It’s not that we would be transporting other substances.”

She added it will continue to work with landowners to make sure concerns are addressed.

Proposed routing through organic land near the South Saskatchewan River would involve directional drilling to go under the water.

“For a two-kilometre stretch we would be going about 40 metres below ground,” she said.

That could also be done through the organic land.

MacLeod also said the line would not go through the Beaver Creek Conservation Area and about half of the currently preferred route parallels roads, property lines or existing easements.

“We know the anchor points. There’s definitely room to tweak it as we go to make sure we’re taking everyone’s concerns into consideration.”

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