Chapter 5: Detailed Route Hearings

As mentioned in Chapter 4, if the NEB receives a letter of opposition within the 30-day period and finds it meets the criteria set out in the NEB Act, a detailed route hearing will be held in the area where the lands are located.

Can I still be involved in the detailed route process if I have signed a land agreement?

Most people will not sign a land agreement if they oppose the detailed route, but if you have signed one, you are not necessarily excluded from being involved in the detailed route approval process. See Chapter 2 for more information.

How will I find out about a detailed route hearing?

The NEB prepares a notice of hearing or Hearing Order (Hearing Orders are also mentioned in Chapter 2) and requires the company to notify everyone whose written opposition was found to be legitimate. The company is also required to publish the Hearing Order in newspapers in the area where the lands subject to the statement of opposition are located. This allows for anyone else who is potentially affected or interested to be informed about the hearing.

Can I attend and present my views of why I do not think the project or the pipeline route should be approved at all?

No, the purpose of the detailed route hearing is to determine the best possible route. If you are opposed to a proposed project or wish to speak to the decision on whether to approve a project or not, you should plan to participate in the certificate hearing process. Please see Chapter 2 for more information on certificate hearings.

Can I try to settle my issues before the hearing takes place?

The company and the landowner are encouraged to reach a solution even if the NEB has set a date for a detailed route hearing. The NEB generally encourages parties to consider accessing the NEB’s ADR process. (See Chapter 10 for information on ADR). If an agreement is reached, the landowner may withdraw their statement of opposition, and a detailed route hearing will not take place for that segment of the route.

Can anyone else attend or be involved in my detailed route hearing?

A detailed route hearing is open to the public as is the case with other NEB hearing processes. Anyone may attend and observe the hearing. In addition to the landowners whose lands would be crossed by the pipeline and those people whose lands may be adversely affected, anyone with an interest may apply to the NEB to participate in the detailed route hearing. This is similar to applying to be an intervenor in hearings for other projects. The NEB will decide whether an applicant has sufficient interest in the detailed route hearing to be allowed to participate. For more information on being an intervenor, please see Chapter 2.

What does the NEB decide after the detailed route hearing takes place?

After receiving all of the evidence presented in the detailed route hearing, the Board considers the evidence presented and decides whether the company has proposed the best possible detailed route for the pipeline and the most appropriate methods and timing for building the pipeline. The NEB may make one of three decisions on the disputed detailed route segment:

  • to accept the company's proposed detailed route, with or without conditions;
  • to reject all or part of the company's proposed detailed route; or
  • to require more information from the participants before making a decision.

If the Board rejects the company's proposed route, does the Board then decide where the route should go?

No, the Board does not select a pipeline route or tell the company where the route should be moved. If the NEB rejects the company’s detailed route, the company has four options:

  • attempt to reach an agreement with the landowner for a route;
  • seek a review of the decision;
  • request permission to appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal; or
  • reapply with a new location for the rejected segment of detailed route - one that it believes will satisfy the NEB’s concerns. If legitimate oppositions about the new detailed route are received by the NEB, then another detailed route hearing would be required.

What happens after the Board makes a detailed route decision that I do not agree with? Can I appeal the decision?

The NEB must send a copy of the decision to each participant of the detailed route hearing and to the federal Minister of NRCan. Landowners, tenants, or others who wish to dispute the Board's detailed route hearing decision have two options:

  • they can request that the Board review the decision; or
  • they may apply to the Federal Court of Appeal for permission to appeal the decision (only on a question of law or jurisdiction).

When will a detailed route hearing take place? How long does it take?

The timing of a detailed route hearing is affected by various factors such as how many statements of opposition are received and where all of the parties are geographically located. Scheduling of detailed route hearings may also take into account landowners scheduling, especially if the landowners are involved in seasonal agricultural operations.

The oral part of the hearing may not take very long to complete, but there may be questions to answer in advance of the detailed route hearing. It may also take time to put together information on alternative routes within an approved corridor. The entire process may be completed within a few months, or it may take a lot longer depending on the specific situation.

Do I need a lawyer to participate in the detailed route hearing?

You do not need to hire a lawyer to participate in an NEB hearing or any other NEB process. Some people may be more comfortable having a person speak on their behalf, and a request may be made to the Board for this person to be anyone you designate, but it does not have to be a lawyer. You should be prepared to answer questions about your evidence at a hearing or through questioning in writing before the hearing.

How should I prepare for a detailed route hearing?

You should prepare for a detailed route hearing as you would for any other type of hearing (see Chapter 2). Usually the same general procedures are followed as in a hearing for a large project application.

What information should I provide during the detailed route hearing process?

Landowners should provide as much detailed information as possible in support of their opposition during the detailed route hearing. Evidence may include: reports, information or testimony from a professional; sworn statements; registered farming plans; architectural plans for development; maps and photos; specific details on the impacts to the land, such as evaluations; information on current or future land use; and proposed alternative routes and details of these alternatives.

At the detailed route hearing, you may say what you believe to be issues with the company’s proposed detailed route and with the construction methods and timing. You are not required to propose an alternate route (or routes), but you may decide to do so. If you do propose an alternate route, you should provide the reasons why you believe that route is equal to, or better than the company’s proposed route. Landowners may also be asked questions by the company, the NEB, or by the other landowners involved as intervenors.

What costs am I entitled to receive for participating in the detailed route hearing?

After the detailed route hearing, you may submit a claim to the company for the reasonable costs of participating in the detailed route hearing. Along with your claim, you must provide receipts showing:

  • the amount of the actual costs;
  • to whom they are owed; and
  • the reasons those costs were incurred.

Examples of reasonable costs may include legal fees, professional consultants’ fees, or costs for attending the hearing. If you and the company do not agree on the amount of the costs that you claim, you can ask the NEB to determine the amount.

Can I bring up compensation as an issue for the Board to decide?

The Board has no authority to decide on compensation amounts. For more information on settling compensation please see Chapter 7.

Rancher and Child in a Field
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