ECONOMIC RECONCILIATION IS A PRIORITY AT ENBRIDGE
Building and maintaining relationships with Indigenous nations and groups over the lifecycle of our assets is essential to Enbridge’s continued success as a leading North American energy delivery company. An important part of how we do business is to work with Indigenous communities to help increase their capacity to participate economically in our projects and operations. Economic engagement ranges from providing training and employment opportunities that build transferrable skills, to the procurement of goods and services from Indigenous businesses. To tap into Indigenous communities’ growing capacity and desire to participate in contracting and employment opportunities, Enbridge has adopted a supply chain process that requires prospective contractors to include detailed Socio-Economic Plans that outline how they will include local Indigenous communities and businesses in their work for Enbridge’s projects and operations. This approach exemplifies our desire to build long-term relationships which create value for both Indigenous communities and our business.
Enbridge has long recognized that hiring Indigenous businesses supports local employment, gives us the opportunity to understand available services and talent, and helps build trust and relationships. We also appreciate the important contribution that Indigenous businesses make each year to the overall economy.
In 2019, we marked a major milestone, surpassing $1 billion in Indigenous spending since 2011 across our Liquids Pipelines and Gas Transmission businesses. This includes direct spend with Indigenous businesses as well as subcontracting opportunities for Indigenous businesses, suppliers and wages paid to Indigenous workers from our contractors.
Our Line 3 pipeline replacement project (L3RP) is an excellent example of how our supply chain is delivering on our commitment to maximize Indigenous participation. This supports our efforts to advance economic reconciliation in accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #92.
At $5.3 billion for the Canadian segment alone, the L3RP was the largest capital project in Enbridge’s history. It also represented our largest and most successful community engagement effort – including more than 150 Indigenous communities from as far as 300 kilometres from the pipeline right of way.
As of late September 2019, Indigenous spending on the L3RP totaled approximately $440 million for contracting and wages, while more than 1,100 Indigenous men and women were employed on project construction, representing approximately 20% of the overall workforce.
“The economic benefits flowing to Indigenous communities from Line 3 pipeline construction are no accident or happy coincidence,” says Enbridge’s Dave Lawson, Vice President of Major Projects. “Rather, they are the direct result of our comprehensive and proactive engagement program and the joint commitments between Enbridge and numerous Indigenous communities and groups.”
The leaders of several First Nations located along the Line 3 route note that “this economic stimulus benefited more than just the workers, it benefited the families and the Nations we represent.” They worked with Enbridge and “found ways to ensure environmental protections, and ways to secure tangible economic benefits and career development commitments for the indigenous people we represent. Enbridge listened and we believe this project has been a success for our people.”
Another community benefitting from the L3RP was the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF). David Chartrand, President of the MMF says, “In order to work on a pipeline you have to have certification, so we got our people all ready and trained a year before the pipeline went in. We were ahead of the game.”
“I can honestly say,” he adds, “that this is one of the true success stories that we can probably talk about. Enbridge has got a blueprint for other companies if they want to use it.”
This focus on engagement and inclusion led to 58 cooperative project agreements with Enbridge, representing the participation of 95 Indigenous communities or groups.
“From the outset, we made a concerted effort to ensure Indigenous communities understood our project, specifically how they might participate and benefit economically,” explains Kim Brenneis, Director of Community and Indigenous Engagement. “I think the positive results we’ve seen speak to Enbridge’s strong commitment to inclusion as well as to building mutually-beneficial relationships with Indigenous nations.”
Beyond successful engagement, there are three major reasons for the strong Indigenous project participation and spending profile, explains Barry Horon, Director of Supply Chain Management for Projects.
“First, we worked with Indigenous communities to help create the capacity needed to participate in meaningful pipeline contracting and employment opportunities; second, Enbridge adopted a proactive supply chain process that, among other initiatives, required prospective contractors to include detailed Indigenous participation plans in their bids; and third, we implemented a labour strategy to enhance connections between Indigenous job seekers and our primary construction contractors through an online portal and the use of Indigenous labour brokers,” says Horon.
Included in the Indigenous workforce were 27 construction monitor and nine liaison positions that provided both Indigenous perspectives and advice to the Line 3 project team. This helped to ensure that Enbridge’s environmental mitigation strategies – which were approved by the National Energy Board – were implemented during construction.
Another key component of the labour strategy was the now-completed Line 3 Pipeline 101 training-to-employment program. Over three years, more than 260 Indigenous men and women graduated from the program, many of whom have secured work on the L3RP.
Our experience with the L3RP led to an assessment of how Enbridge’s Indigenous engagement practices had evolved over the past few years. An outcome of this process was the introduction, in 2019, of our Indigenous Lifecycle Engagement Framework, which now guides our approach to building and sustaining long-term relationships across our business going forward, including for enhancing Indigenous economic participation in our projects and operation.
The framework was shared with several Indigenous nations in Canada. We are now incorporating their feedback into our planning and we will continue to seek to seek their input to ensure that our approach remains in step with their interests and goals.
Thanks to Todayville for helping us bring our members’ stories of collaboration and innovation to the public.
Click to read a foreward from JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
Alberta promising changes to campuses amid university ‘woke’ free speech standoff
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
The Alberta government says changes are coming to further protect free speech on campuses as a former professor speaking out on so-called “woke” policies prepares for a showdown with the University of Lethbridge.
Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides says he plans to announce the changes in the coming days but did not give details.
He was responding to the case of Frances Widdowson, a former tenured professor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, who was invited then disinvited to speak on campus this week about her concerns that a mob mentality and “woke policies” increasingly threaten academic freedom.
Widdowson has previously come under fire for her comments on residential schools.
“I understand past comments made by this speaker are controversial,” Nicolaides said in a statement Tuesday.
“But I believe it is important for our universities and colleges to foster a strong culture of free speech and diverse viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are deemed controversial, or even offensive, barring speech intended to incite hatred or violence of course.”
Widdowson, asked about Nicolaides’ comment, said in an interview: “I think that’s great.
“I think we need a public inquiry about what’s happening at universities.
“The universities are being run by woke activists who are completely opposed to the open and honest discussion of ideas on campus.”
Widdowson was fired from Mount Royal in late 2021 amid controversy over comments she made lauding the educational benefits of Canada’s residential school system while questioning whether abuses at the schools against Indigenous children equated to “cultural genocide,” as described in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Widdowson was invited by a professor to speak Wednesday and the University of Lethbridge granted space for the event.
About 2,500 students signed a petition pushing back on the university for hosting the speech.
University president Mike Mahon, as late as last Thursday, defended the decision to host Widdowson, citing free speech even if the university did not agree with her views.
However, on Monday, Mahon said after further consultation the offer of space was revoked because Widdowson’s views would not advance the residential schools discussion and would cause harm by minimizing the pain and suffering inflicted on First Nations children and families.
“It is clear that the harm associated with this talk is an impediment to meaningful reconciliation,” said Mahon in a statement.
Widdowson said she plans to deliver her speech in a public atrium on the campus Wednesday afternoon and has challenged school security to toss her out.
“I’ve never denied the harm of the residential schools,” she told The Canadian Press.
“People are distorting what I’m saying about it. My issue is residential schools were not genocidal. (They) were a misguided effort which often had serious problems.”
“I’ve been branded as some kind of hate monger,” she added. “I’m just arguing if we want to create a better world for everyone, a more co-operative world, we have to be able to speak truthfully about issues that matter.”
Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Nicolaides is being distressingly tone-deaf and needs to reconsider his statements.
“The idea of having someone come and speak at the university … to a student body that consists of many Indigenous students about how they somehow benefited from residential schools is deeply troubling to me,” Notley told reporters.
“That the (United Conservative Party government) doesn’t understand how incredibly hurtful those ideas are to huge swaths of the Alberta population reveals their lack of understanding about the real experiences and traumas that treaty people in Alberta have been subjected to.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.
Alberta landowners fear repeat of orphan well crisis as renewable energy booms
By Amanda Stephenson in Calgary
Once bitten, twice shy.
It’s an old adage that explains why Jason Schneider, the elected reeve of Vulcan County, Alta., is jittery about the renewable energy boom under way in his province.
Like many in rural Alberta, Schneider is still smarting over the way municipalities were left holding the bag when an oil price crash nearly a decade ago resulted in billions of dollars of unfunded liabilities left behind by bankrupt fossil fuel companies.
In Vulcan County alone, the landscape is littered with hundreds of wells with no owners that need to be cleaned up, and the municipality itself is owed more than $9 million in back taxes left unpaid by insolvent oil and gas firms.
So Schneider has a hard time looking at acre upon acre of massive wind turbines or solar panels without fearing a repeat of Alberta’s orphan well crisis, or wondering who’s going to fix everything if something goes wrong.
“These are large industrial developments, and the reclamation costs are going to be substantial,” he said.
“We can see the warning signs, and we are being ignored.”
Across rural Alberta, concerns are growing about the long-term implications of the province’s renewable energy boom — the speed and scale of which has been nothing short of stunning.
A province that not that long ago was largely reliant on coal for electricity, Alberta is now home to more than 3,800 MW of wind and solar capacity, 1,350 of which came online in just the last 12 months. An additional 1,800 MW of capacity is currently under construction, putting the province on track to meet or exceed the target it set in 2016 to generate 30 per cent of its total electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
In Schneider’s Vulcan County, which is home to both the country’s largest solar farm and one of Western Canada’s largest wind farms, renewable energy developments now account for more than 40 per cent of the local tax base, displacing oil and gas as the number one source of revenue for the local municipal government.
But while many in rural Alberta welcome the economic activity, and farmers and ranchers enjoy the extra income that playing host to solar panels or wind turbines can bring, others are sounding the alarm.
For example, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta recently passed a resolution calling on the provincial government to protect taxpayers from incurring costs associated with the potential decommissioning of renewable energy infrastructure.
Specifically, the association wants to see the government mandate the collection of securities for reclamation from developers before a project goes ahead. That way, municipalities won’t be footing the bill if a developer becomes insolvent and walks away.
“What we’ve learned, and what Albertans have learned, is that the cheapest way to get out of reclamation is going bankrupt,” said Paul McLauchlin, president of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta.
“Some of these solar installations are being installed by one company, sold to another company … I talked to a gentleman who’s on his fifth owner, and his solar installation has been there maybe two years. So we’re seeing small companies owning these, and whether they have the wherewithal for reclamation, that’s really what’s driving this conversation.”
In Alberta, the Orphan Well Association is an industry-funded organization tasked with decommissioning old oil and gas infrastructure and returning the land to its prior state. (It’s currently backlogged, in spite of a $200 million loan from the federal government. In 2020, the feds also provided $1 billion for well clean-up to active companies under Alberta’s Site Rehabilitation Program.)
But there’s no equivalent for the renewable energy industry, though renewable energy companies are required to provide an overview of how they plan to cover decommissioning and reclamation costs before they can receive the go-ahead for their project.
However, for a landowner, entering into a wind or solar lease is entirely voluntary. That’s very different from oil and gas, where under Alberta law, property owners are not allowed to refuse companies seeking to develop the fossil fuels that lie under the surface of their land.
Evan Wilson, director of policy and government affairs for the Canadian Renewable Energy Association, said that because solar and wind leases remain private civil contracts between the developer and the landowner, the onus is on the landowner to ensure the inclusion of some kind of provision to mitigate risks associated with the project’s end-of-life.
But he added many companies do offer landowners some form of reclamation commitment, either in the form of a letter of credit or bond.
“Landowners do have the ability to veto these projects being built on their land,” Wilson said.
“So that puts a lot of pressure on our members to ensure that landowners do feel comfortable with the terms.”
Sara Hastings-Simon, an expert in energy, innovation and climate policy at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, said it’s understandable that municipalities have concerns.
However, she said it’s odd that there’s a push to enforce new regulations for the renewable sector, when the scope of the orphan well problem shows the oil and gas regulatory system could also use an overhaul.
According to the Alberta Energy Regulator, there are more than 83,000 inactive oil and gas wells in the province currently, and close to 90,000 more that have been sealed and taken out of service, but not yet fully remediated.
A report released last year by the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that the cost of orphan well clean-up in Canada will reach $1.1 billion by 2025.
“Obviously we need to make sure that all of our industrial development is done in a way that doesn’t offload costs to the public,” Hastings-Simon said.
“But it would make a lot of sense for the province to look at energy development holistically, rather than just picking the one that right now perhaps has more growth.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2023.
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