Mayor of Cold Lake Craig Copeland said the city will talk about the economy and Imperial Oil’s place in the community when presenting their case at the Alberta Energy Regulator’s appeal hearing on the Cold Lake Expansion Project.
Elizabeth Metis Settlement launched the appeal just a month after the Cold Lake Expansion Project cleared regulatory hurdles that held the project up for two years, with the AER approving the appeal in December 2018.
Elizabeth Metis Settlement, the City of Cold Lake, M.D. of Bonnyville, Kehewin Cree Nation, Fishing Lake Métis Settlement, and Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement received a letter this week stating the issues they’ll be allowed to address during the AER appeal hearing.
For the City and M.D., they will address the issue of whether an approval for the project is in the public interest.
“We desperately need it for our area and the province. And so we feel the Elizabeth Settlement appeal of the energy regulator decision needs to be decided right now,” said Mayor Copeland.
“We’re disappointed it took six months to get here. But it is what it is. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to speak at the hearing.”
The $2-billion project located 23km outside of Cold Lake would produce an additional 55,000 barrels a day.
Since the project was given the green light in 2018, Imperial Oil showed interest in phasing the project and filed for amendments to the deal.
Elizabeth Metis Settlement’s appeal looks for a stay of the AER decisions pending the outcome of the appeal, a reversal of AER’s decisions to approve the project or a revision of AER’s approvals.
These approvals would include a project-specific traditional land use and impact study, an in-depth historical assessment on the former colony lands, and a stay of the approval until the conditions have been fulfilled.
M.D. Reeve Greg Sawchuk said on The Morning After that the previous oil-related expansions saw an economic spin for the area.
“As far as the impact they have, we saw that in the previous expansion phases where the number of workers coming into the area to use our facilities our hotels – you see a huge bump as far as economic impact. Then with the on-going operations, Imperial are a top-notch company that go above and beyond for their public consultation,” said Sawchuk.
Elizabeth Metis Settlement will speak towards the issue of whether Imperial’s project directly or adversely affects members ability to use harvesting rights, including traditional land-use activities and waters.
And whether the project will directly or adversely affect Metis members cultural connections to the lands and waters that will be impacted by the Cold Lake Expansion project.
Elizabeth Metis Settlement members did not reply by publication time but said in a previous press release in April that generally what is good for the region is good for EMS, but the ability to hunt, fish, trap, and gather medicines and plants both on and off Settlement is central to their culture.
“The concerns that Elizabeth Metis Settlement has raised with respect to the Imperial Oil Expansion project are part of a larger dialogue of reconciliation and includes consideration for the needs of all our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren,” the release stated.
Imperial’s legal counsel responded to Elizabeth Metis’ claims to the AER last September saying these appeals should be dismissed.
They said Elizabeth Metis did provide any facts to support the reasons for requesting regulatory appeals and they are without merit.
Kehewin Cree Nation, Fishing Lake Métis Settlement, and Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement will be allowed to speak on these issues of cultural impact and traditional land-use during the appeal.
However, for a project of this scope, Mayor Copeland and Reeve Sawchuk are both frustrated with the process.
“This whole regulatory process is failed. We have to stop how long it takes companies to get approval. It’s getting to the point of ridiculous,” said Copeland.
Sawchuk said, “That’s why we’re seeing a lack of investment in Canada right now because we put so many steps in place that it’s no longer of interest for them to invest that much time and money in these projects.”