ROTHENBURGER – All’s quiet on the TMX front; maybe a little too quiet

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

ALL IS QUIET on the Trans Mountain front, at least on the section that runs through the North Thompson Valley including Black Pines. Maybe a little too quiet.

A year ago, contractors were getting geared up to begin the process of ripping up farmland, digging the trench running parallel to the existing line, and moving in massive equipment and stockpiles of new pipe. (Little did we know the steel for that pipe was supplied by a now-sanctioned Russian oligarch.)

It was supposed to take a few weeks but it took many months. All summer long and into the fall, they did their noisy, ground-shaking work. By the time the snow fell, the pipe was in the ground and they moved on.

(Sadly, the “frog fence” that was installed in hopes of helping at-risk Western and Spadefoot toads find their way back to the river after hibernating in the hills across Westsyde Road during the cold months doesn’t seem to have worked. In a normal fall, thousands would make their way through our place from the river to their hibernation grounds; last fall, I didn’t see a single one making the journey.)

Then, there was blessed quiet, the winter months punctuated only by the occasional rumbling and whistling of the trains on the other side of the river.


Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9648 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on ROTHENBURGER – All’s quiet on the TMX front; maybe a little too quiet

  1. Bill Hadgkiss // March 19, 2022 at 8:04 PM // Reply

    But, please check the economics of the TMX;
    This report made from data from David Huntley shows that the Trans Mountain claim and commonly-referred-to existing five tankers per month is incorrect. The actual number varies, but since 2011 has always averaged fewer than 5 per month; for example in 2016 and 2017 the rate was between 1 and 2 per month. For 2018 it was 3.6 per month. For 2019 it was 1 per month. For 2020 it was 2.2 per month, no tankers loaded in January, five loaded in February, four in March, two in April, five in May, three in June, none in July and August, one in September, two in October, one in November and two in December, these last 5 to China. In 2021, January-June, it was 1.8 per month, 11 tankers loaded; 5 went to California, 4 to China, and 2 to South Korea.
    It has been rare for this pipeline to exceed 50% of its loading capacity, and in 2016, 2017 and 2019 it was using less than 15% of its loading capacity. Current usage equals 17%, or 5% of the tripled expansion. This makes no sense; or dollars either. Economically and Environmentally it is still a BAD IDEA. Bill

  2. Over the construction process, I have spoken to a number of people actually working the site in the Valemount area, from equipment operators, to a guy heading up to be a number 2 on site supervisor tasked to getting the workers their tools, parts, equipment and daily task list and being ‘in the ditch’, getting it done. He was needed because the number 1 supervisor job had shifted to having to manage ‘the unexpected’ and he couldnt do both.

    This is first hand knowledge of the actual work process, as reported to me.

    The unexpected was the massive amount of work stoppages due to governmental project coordinators having to toe a much more elevated line regarding every decision; environmental, worksafe, and procedural … than a private pipeline management structure would need.

    If you think about it, a federal government infrastructure project has zero choice but to slow down and make darn sure that there is no bending of any rule whatsoever … as the political ramifications would be huge. Any problem they run into will require meetings, paperwork and even ministerial go ahead … all the while hundreds of guys hang over shovels and equipment.

    What this one supervisor said to back this up, is the offending governmental intervener people honestly did not know what they were doing to build a pipeline, and if they couldnt figure something out, the site ground to a stop. Where a private pipeline builder has the expertise to quickly deal with an issue and push on, this project does not have the expertise in the correct positions and therefore flounders under the bureaucracy.

    He said “its not really the govt’s fault, you cant really blame them for being forced to complete the project, or from having to do it more carefully than a private company … imagine if a federal govt project caused a mudslide thru a community … so from that angle its not classic ‘mismanagement’. But there is a lack of knowledge at the ground level with some people wearing white hard hats … thats the big problem”.

    Such stuff … in the end … costs money. So the completion cost skyrockets.

    Add that a 2 month stoppage for a number of these companies to go help with the highways after the floods, covid slowdowns and a few more slowdowns … and ya …. we’re lucky the cost is just triple.

  3. This project was government largess on a grand scale and the well-connected made sure to “milk the fat cow” to the very last drop…because if it wasn’t this or that contractor it would’ve been another one, at least that’s how the reasoning goes. The government succumbed to enormous pressures, from “rights” groups to business groups, it really didn’t have a chance one way or another.

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