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The Sherbrooke Record
23 January 1998

The Sherbrooke Record
February 1997

Gas pipeline to cut through Townships to US

Paul Cherry
Coaticook, Quebec

Urgel Delisle is a man with a long road ahead of him. About 220 km long to be exact, and it's filled with potential roadblocks.

Delisle is the president of Urgel Delisle & Associes Inc, a consulting firm that is doing the bulk of the legwork for a company that is going to be laying down a natural gas pipeline through the Eastern Townships into the United States, throughEast Hereford.

Before getting the project going, Delisle's company has toget approval from the National Energy Board of Canada, the provincial minister of environment, an agricultural land protection committee, 40 separate municipalities, nine MRCs, the Montreal Urban Community, and 450 land owners.

"We're going to work like a symphonic orchestra to get this done," Delisle said, adding he is confident the pipeline will be in place on schedule.

The company Delisle is doing the consulting for, TransQuebec & Maritimes Inc is scheduled to start laying down pipe on May 1 1998 and plans to be pumping natural gas by November 1 of thesame year. They will then put the finishing touches along the linethe following spring.

For the past two weeks Delisle's company has been meeting with land owners in Coaticook. The line runs through the northern part of the municipality.

Delisle said more than 95 per cent of the land owners whose property the pipeline is scheduled to cross turned up to hearwhat UDA had to say.

Both companies are also holding "open house" meetings for the public to get information on what is planned.

On Tuesday they were in Coaticook, yesterday in Granby, onSaturday they will be in Ste. Julie and on Sunday they will be in Magog.

The meetings are being used to explain to the public how TQM decides to run their pipeline where they have planned.

The company covers the cost of the land they use. What some landowners have been offered so far works out to somewhere between $1500 and $2000 in taxable compensation.

Delisle said TQM will also cover such costs as lost produce according to current market prices. At some points the pipeline will be going right through the middle of working farms. For example the company plans on having to reimburse Christmas tree farmers in East Hereford where they are scheduled to cut through pine forests. But that is just one concern Delisle's company and TQIM will have to deal with before they start digging.

"There are places where we're going to have extra meetingswith land owners. In the north of Coaticook there is a person who has a problem with us going through his wooded area," Delisle said.The company is willing to go over options with the land owner butwould prefer to not go through a neighboring farmer's cultivated land which would cost TQM more in reimbursements down the road when the farmer can't produce on the area used for one season.

"Those are adjustments we have to make and they're normal for us," he said.

Delisle said his company has yet to deal with any major problems in the planning of the pipeline. TQM is using existing land clearings. where hydro lines have already cleared forest for a large percentage of the project. There have been some twists and turns along the way but Delisle said its nothing he hasn't seen before.

It's happened in other projects where municipalities say "you can't pass through myterritory for such and such a reason he said. But those are elements off negotiation, we're working with politicians. Sometimes they take a hard line to make sure they're heard. It's all part of the game.

The Union des Producteurs Agricole, representing farmers'interests, also asked why the company can't follow the Eastern Townships autoroute to lay down most of the pipeline. Delisle said thatwas considered but added that there would be more of an environmental impact if they did it, including having to clear forested area beside the highway. He said the transport minister is extremely reluctant to allow such a structure near a highway.

The first municipalities approached by UDA have been open to the plans of the pipeline proposal. Delisle said the real task ahead is sorting out compromises with individual land owners. He was hard pressed to pin down a common concern farmers have with the pipeline going through their backyards.

"We hear all kinds of questions. But, they're all legitimate. This is someone's home we're dealing with and we do have to listen. But the majority of the time if we calmly explain what we're doing they see it as reasonable", said Delisle, adding that the last time they did a project of this magnitude they had to convince 1400 landowners and only five rejected their final proposals.

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