April 30, 1998
National Energy Board
311 6th Avenue S.W.
CALGARY, Alberta T2P 3H2
Attention: Michel Mantha, Secretary
Re: Application by Trans Quebec & Maritimes Pipeline Inc., dated April 8, 1998, to cross Lot No. 165 in the Municipality of Stukely-Sud
Forest Management Plan: 05615 5093 1164, DAV-44-633825
In accordance with the "avis de tracé, and pursuant to subsection 34(3) of the National Energy Board Act, we are writing to ask to be heard regarding the proposed detailed route across our land.
We oppose the route across our property on the grounds that it will have an adverse environmental impact on our land and our historic,150-year stone house, notably that it will:
The proposed pipeline right-of-way across my property would run through solid ledge, and it would therefore need to be dynamited. The rugged terrain was substantially reshaped as a result of dynamiting for the first pipeline, and has since been considerably eroded, exacerbated by the unauthorized use of the corridor by ATs and snowmobiles. Hydro-Quebec and Gaz Inter-Cité work crews have also damaged the land. (The environmental impact study of the route by Urgel Delisle & associés notes that the company, TQM, is opposed to the use of the servitude for AT vehicles because of the erosion they cause);
Although the National Energy Board recommended that in forested zones the amount of forested land which could be cut be limited to 18 m, the accompanying documentation of the "avis" shows a proposed corridor 23 m wide (not mentioning the work space). Should this servitude be allowed, my land under forest management will be decreased by approx. 4700 sq. m. I would then have, on lot 165, a total of approx. 8400 sq. m under servitude for the two gas pipeline servitudes plus the approx. 3675 sq. m of the contiguous Hydro-Quebec servitude on land we can no longer use for forestry.
The corridor is an open gash across the land which allows access to our woods. The unauthorized hunters and AT vehicle users in particular are impossible to control.
Our municipal council is presently negotiating with TQM, without any authorization from the property owners, for the public use of the right-of-way across private property.
The report by Urgel Delisle states that Gazoduc TQM does not object in principle to the use of the right-of-way for a hiking trail, snowmobile trail or bicycle path. While we do not object to the use, under stringent conditions, by hikers, we most strenuously object to the use of the right-of-way, which divides our land in two, by bicycles and snowmobiles. The terrain under discussion is, first, private property, and second, inappropriate for such use. It is my understanding that the right-of-way is obtained only for the purpose specific to it, and cannot be offered to a third party for other uses.
One of the objectives of our forest management plan is to provide habitat for wildlife; the forest and marsh zone on our lot is being whittled away by these contiguous rights-of-ways. Each one reduces the amount of land for deer yards, bear and moose.
We were assured in 1983 that a spring, open year-round, in the woods cut down for the pipeline would be protected; it was not. Instead, the remediators created a new pond in what came to be a heavily used corridor. This unsheltered pond freezes over in the winter, and is of little use to wildlife, especially given the vehicular traffic. Even the frogs have mostly disappeared from it.
We are extremely concerned that our well will be damaged. Pure water is irreplaceable.
The 28"-thick walls of the house are built right on the ledge which will be blasted again should this pipeline go through. An outcrop of this ledge comes into our basement; in 1983, we could feel tremors in the house every time the company blasted or heavy equipment rumbled along the ledge. The blasting also caused structural damage to our brick chimneys. Later a slight earthquake caused additional damage to the chimneys, and as a result, one chimney had to be rebuilt.
With regard to safety, we are concerned:
The BAPE report recommends that where the route passes within 350 m of residences, the promoter must re-examine the route or take such construction and design measures as are needed to reduce the level of risk. Our home is located approximately 150 m from the proposed pipeline.
The responsibility for such liability is not clear. Considering that there is no supervision by the company of the corridor it opened for the right-of-way, and that the total "endommagement" we received in 1983 was $1035, it would appear that the Company?s liability in case of accident to trespassers needs to be clearly spelled out in regard to a route chosen. No such precision has been offered.
No emergency measures plan was ever drawn up for the 1983 exercise, although the Company promised it would present such a plan. South Stukely is a small, rural municipality with no public security services. We question the mitigative measures proposed, especially the emergency plan presently being drawn up in concert with the mayor. The suggestion that public security measures can be handled by volunteers is unrealistic in a town such as South Stukely; we cannot even find volunteers to supervise activities for the children.
We oppose the general choice of route because:
We also wish to make two points about the process itself. We would point out that early in these proceedings, prior to the hearings, we suggested the pipeline be placed between the existing pipeline and the Hydro-Québec servitude. We were told that this would be impossible. Last fall, during the hearings, the negotiators returned to propose exactly that. Because the hearings had started, we said we were not in a position to discuss this until the hearing process had ended. The "avis de tracé", however, clearly shows a 23-metre corridor (rather than the 18-metre corridor proposed by the National Energy Board), beside the first pipeline, making three contiguous servitudes across our land, for a total of more than 10,000 sq. m under servitude, running right through the centre of lot 165.
Our second point, which we wish to make without frivolity or vexatiousness, is that the process is stacked against the private citizen in favour of the big company. Citizens without specialized legal and technical training have been allowed to speak, but their voices have not been heard. This for-profit project (which might well create no environmental or human hardship in the open spaces of western Canada) will be a disaster for many of the landowners here whose land will be bulldozed for another pipeline that government bodies somewhere else have accepted. It was our understanding that the National Energy Act requires consideration of alternative routes, but no alternative route was considered in this sector by the Company, the MRC or the regulatory bodies. The original proposal was based on an existing pipeline through Highwater and along the US border or Sabrevois that would have avoided all these problems. So too a route alongside the Eastern Townships Autoroute No. 10, from Waterloo through to Magog would not only be feasible but widely acceptable.
As noted, we have substantial concern for the impact on the local environment in this fragile cultural landscape. The report of the hearings held by the Bureau des audiences publique du Québec (the BAPE), relating to the part of the route in Stukely-Sud-Magog (p. 103) shared our concerns:
Il s?agit d?une succession de zones extrêmement sensibles, tant du point de vue humain que de ceux du paysage ou du milieu naturel... Si le promoteur et la MRC convenaient de faire passer le gazoduc dans ce corridor, ce devrait être aux conditions suivantes:
- Le village de Stukely-Sud ... [doit] être évité; à cette fin, le gazoduc devrait se rapprocher de l?autoroute 10 et la suivre à partir d?un point situé entre Waterloo et la limite du village de Stukely-Sud.
We therefore oppose in a general way the imposition of the pipeline on private property owners without adequate consideration of the harm that will be done to them, especially when alternative routes exist but were not studied. Given that no alternative route through or near South Stukely was ever considered, we believe there are grounds for a reconsideration of the route in this part of the territory, and specifically across our land. We therefore contest the detailed route across Lot 165, South Stukely, and ask to be heard on this matter.
Christina Richards and Gary Richards
c.c. Trans Québec & Maritimes Pipeline Inc.
Attention Me Lise Duquette (Registered Mail)
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