Merritt is being considered in a proposed pipeline expansion program, aiming to enhance resource transportation in the region. 

The Sunrise Expansion Project, currently in the early stages of discussion, envisions a strategic pipeline that expands into the southern portion of the West Coast or B.C. Pipeline system known as “T-South.” 

Aaron Letendre, community and Indigenous relations advisor at Enbridge, talked about the importance of the project for the region.

“This project is being driven by the demand for natural gas to serve B.C. and the U.S. Pacific northwest,” he said. “It includes adding an additional 42-inch pipeline into the ground … this would provide approximately 300 million cubic feet of natural gas transported per day.”

Letendre added that environmental and geotechnical studies on the proposed location of the expansion have started and that the construction would start in 2026.

According to Letendre, the project would also increase the amount of gas flowing through the compression at the existing compressor stations as well as adding more power transmission lines, including to an existing station approximately 20 kilometres south of Merritt.

“We’ll be looking at adding an electric-driven compressor station unit to that compressor station,” Letendre said. “In order to do so, we would have to tie into an existing power(line) so we would have to build transmission lines.”

He also added that at this stage, the company hasn’t done any environmental or geotechnical survey of the powerline routing of this particular area, but assured that they would be following the existing powerline right away and tying into an independent power producer located south of Merritt.

After the presentation, Coun. Wendy Charney raised questions regarding the boundaries of the powerline, in relation to the entrances to Merritt from the Lower Nicola area, to which Letendre said it would be the southside of Merritt but couldn’t tell exactly where the powerline would go through.

“I think that makes a significant difference because I mean … they (the powerlines) are quite ugly and our entrance to town is not that great at that end either,” Coun. Charney said. “If we’re going to have these all the way along the road on our entrance to town, I am wondering why (the powerline) couldn’t go underground for that section … if it’s close to city limits or in city limits.”

Coun. Paul Petroczi followed by questioning how many maintenance digs have taken place since 2018, to which Letendre responded that there have been many, but it is not an indication of a problem.

“Doesn’t even necessarily have to be a problem, it can just be an anomaly. So it could just be something that the data detects,” Letendre said. “It’s just something that they (engineers) want to actually go and inspect it visually.”

Mayor Mike Goetz ended the discussion saying that the council looks forward to an update on some of the questions asked.

“I think we probably would enjoy another visit and as we get closer just so the community is in step to what’s happening.”