Management approach

Gaz Métro serves over 300 municipalities across Quebec. Gaz Métro’s activities may have impacts on and consequences for some local communities, in terms of safety, quality of life or environmental quality.

This is why Gaz Métro maintains an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders, particularly neighbours of the natural gas network and Quebec municipalities.  Based on discussions with stakeholders, for Gaz Métro, the two components of social acceptability are the provenance and production methods of natural gas, and how the organization conducts its projects in the community.  This section focuses specifically on the social acceptability of Gaz Métro's projects.

For more information on the provenance of natural gas, please see Gas supply.

Social acceptability of projects
The question of projects’ social acceptability is becoming more and more important in the public sphere, and Gaz Métro knows that an additional effort is required.  

Because of the nature of its activities, Quebec’s energy situation and Gaz Métro’s strong presence on many construction sites, it cares about taking external stakeholders’ concerns into account to enhance its projects.  

As every project is unique, having a reflection process that is tailored to its specific context is important.  In all cases, the planning stage is the key to fostering social acceptability.  Better identification of the issues and stakeholders upstream means better integration of the project.

An internal process was developed in collaboration with the primary actors in the construction, major project, sustainable development, and public and governmental affairs sectors.  The outcome was an agreement to:
  • raise awareness and train project teams on the concept of social acceptability, the impact of projects on communities, best impact mitigation practices, and communication of information to stakeholders;
  • identify environmental, social and economic issues and affected stakeholders as much in advance as possible. Click here for an overview of the criteria used in analyzing projects’ social acceptability;
  • explore the issues and resulting tangible impacts in work groups;
  • find ways to mitigate the impacts and facilitate a project's acceptance in its community; and
  • plan for tailored communication methods to keep project stakeholders informed in a timely manner.
In fiscal 2015, use of this evaluation grid for major projects helped identify about thirty projects that were more sensitive on the social acceptability front, which then received closer monitoring.  

Although this approach is still in development, it has yielded excellent results to date.  The process helped make internal teams aware of social acceptability issues, and integrate this variable in existing processes.  Gaz Métro plans to continue to work on process monitoring to enhance consideration of social acceptability in its projects.
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Performance indicators

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  • Management of projects impacts

    Some impact and stakeholder relations management mechanisms

    Here are some of the major projects that Gaz Métro did in fiscal 2014 and 2015.  For each project presented, communication and impact mitigation measures had to be deployed to enable the projects to become part of their home communities as smoothly as possible.
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    Relocation of a natural gas pipeline under Bisson Bridge

    Context
    The Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) is planning to rebuild the Bisson Bridge slab.  It asked Gaz Métro to take the necessary measures to ensure that the natural gas pipeline attached below the slab would not interfere with the work.  Between September and December 2014, Gaz Métro ran a new pipeline by directional drilling under Rivière des Prairies, abandoning the pipeline under the bridge after the hookups were done in May 2015.  

    Measures

    Thorough analysis of the project yielded a proposed route for the pipeline with the least environmental impact that was best suited to the needs and operating requirements of Gaz Métro and the MTQ.

    The noise level and impacts on migratory birds were assessed to establish the mitigation measures to implement; the finding was that the noise of work to install the pipeline and drilling was lower than the maximum noise level allowed by the Ville de Montréal. For the migratory birds, the impact of the work on reproduction was very limited and the critical phase in their reproduction cycle did not coincide with the work period.  It was also agreed that, if the work was to impinge on the surrounding forest, a nest inventory would be performed first to locate them and, if necessary, modify the layout of the work area.  

    Also, talks with Montreal’s Large Parks department yielded a good grasp of the impact of the work on users of the nature park.  A notice was placed in the local newspaper to inform citizens of the nature of the work, its schedule, and potential impacts.  An information flyer was designed specifically for the project and several copies of it were placed in the chalet at the Bois-de-Liesse nature park, in Montreal.  

    Lastly, appropriate signage was installed to inform passers-by and provide useful contact details in the event of emergency, or for more information.  Replies were provided to an environmental group and weekly newspaper in Laval.  

    The project was completed successfully, to the satisfaction of stakeholders.
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    Relocation of a natural gas transmission pipeline in Bagotville

    Context
    The MTQ will be extending Autoroute 70 to Saguenay and building a viaduct at Chemin Grande Anse. The infrastructures being contemplated by the MTQ are not compatible with the current location of the Gaz Métro pipeline, which is installed in an easement. Gaz Métro therefore installed a new, more flexible, thicker pipeline of the same diameter.  
    Gaz Métro’s work ran from June to August, 2015.

    Measures

    Aside from Régie de l’énergie du Québec authorization, the project required an authorization certificate from the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, as well as a permit to install natural gas equipment in the MTQ’s road easements.  

    An environmental study was done and submitted to the appropriate authorities for consultation and approval.

    Thorough analysis of the project yielded a proposed route with the least environmental impact that met the needs and operating requirements of Gaz Métro and the MTQ.

    The pipeline is an essential link that serves much of the Saguenay area.  If an incident had occurred during the work, numerous residential, commercial and industrial customers would have been deprived of natural gas.  In the spirit of prevention and transparency, the municipalities that could be affected, along with major customers, were informed about the work beforehand.  

    We also held a meeting with the primary project stakeholders. About twenty groups were in attendance, including the Ville de Saguenay, public and fire safety actors, and a group of project neighbours.  Gaz Métro representatives from the construction, emergency measures and communications sectors provided attendees with the pertinent information, and took their remarks into consideration in project development.
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    Relocation of a natural gas pipeline under the Bouchard Bridge

    Context
    In 2014, the MTQ detected a crack in one of the beams on Bouchard Bridge in Saint-Hyacinthe; the risk was that the crack could progress and jeopardize the bridge’s stability.  Work to replace the bridge’s apron and widen the bridge was scheduled for 2016.  However, according to the project schedule, Gaz Métro’s work had to be done before the MTQ’s.  Its pipeline, which ran under the bed of the Yamaska River, six metres downstream from the Bouchard Bridge, was relocated further away from the bridge, once more under the river bed.  The open trench work began in August 2015 and lasted about eight weeks.

    Measures
    An application for an authorization certificate was filed with the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, the City or Saint-Hyacinthe and the Regional county municipality (RCM). The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs was also notified of the Gaz Métro project. The project had little impact on its environment and mitigation measures were deployed.  The pipeline’s route is the one with the least impact on the environment, primarily the aquatic habitat.  The work was performed using the open trench method, downstream from the bridge, which limited disruption to the ecosystem and made it possible to avoid felling many mature trees along the river bank.  

    The environmental study done before the work identified the aquatic species and confirmed that no spawning grounds were nearby.  The impact was slight.  Mitigation measures were implemented and we made sure to restore the shoreline, and revegetate and stabilize the banks.  Environmental follow-up was done to make sure the environment was protected and ensure that the prescribed mitigation measures were applied.  

    Before open trenching work was done, a fish exclusion measure was taken using an electric fishing device, beach seine (net) and a sound scaring device to ensure that no fish remained in the work area.  All fish were immediately released alive back into the river.  We met with the owners of businesses located close to the bridge and the work site to tell them what we were doing and, if necessary, discuss the mitigation measures to be implemented.  One merchant informed us that he was not happy with the fact that equipment would be installed on his land.  We therefore installed a large sign stating that his business was open during the work.  An information session was also held in July 2015.  The public and media were invited to ask the Gaz Métro teams their questions. Only three citizens attended, and media interviews were held prior to the information session.
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    Increase in the LSR plant's liquefaction capacity

    Context
    The natural gas liquefaction capacity of the LSR plant in east-end Montreal will be increased to allow new markets to be developed.  Liquefied natural gas can be used as fuel for road and marine transportation, can supply natural gas distributors in the Northeastern United States, and can supply industrial facilities and communities that are remote from the gas network.  This project, developed by Gaz Métro’s unregulated activities affiliate, Gaz Métro LNG, aims to install new equipment to increase the LSR plant's liquefaction capacity from 3 Bcf/year to 9.825 Bcf/year. The work began in June 2015 and will run until the fall of 2016.

    Measures
    The expansion will be done in accordance with the environmental standards in force.  In the context of this work, several plant processes will also be enhanced to reduce the site’s impact on the environment.  The noise generated by the work will not exceed the threshold set by the borough.  It should also be noted that the plant has been in this industrial and institutional environment for 45 years.  It has an excellent reputation.  Through the Association industrielle de l’est de Montréal, Gaz Métro LNG representatives met with interested citizens and environmental, economic and municipal groups. They were provided with all the relevant information and the organization’s representatives answered questions.  The project is underway and dialogue with project stakeholders is ongoing. No issues have been raised to date.
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    Connection of Valero facilities to the natural gas network

    Context
    In the fall of 2014, Gaz Métro carried out work in connection with a natural gas supply agreement reached for Énergie Valero (Ultramar) facilities, at Pier 51 in Montréal-Est. Gaz Métro added 300 metres to its network to meet Énergie Valero’s needs at its Montréal-Est terminal and its pier.  The project is part of a first phase of work in Montréal-Est. A second phase, involving looping the network north of Rue Notre-Dame, will be undertaken in 2016.  The work took approximately five weeks, running from October 14 to November 19, 2014.

    Measures
    Thorough analysis of the project yielded a route with the least impact on the community and best suited to the needs and operating requirements of Gaz Métro and Valero. Major obstructions and noise were among the potential nuisances for residents close to the site.  Gaz Métro was therefore careful to keep residents informed during project execution.  Effective signage was also deployed.  Citizens’ access to their homes was maintained at all times.  The Gaz Métro team also took on the task of moving residents’ recycling and garbage bins during the work.  A Gaz Métro public affairs representative and project technician went door to door to hand out letters and an information flyer on the project.  This first project phase went forward with the collaboration of partners, to the satisfaction of stakeholders.
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  • Complaints related to our work

    Complaints related to our work 

    Gaz Métro received 177 complaints in fiscal 2015.  Of these, 12 dealt specifically with work done by the organization and were handled by the construction team.  Note that no complaints were received with respect to the 30 projects (Social acceptability of projects) that were flagged for close monitoring by the sustainable development, public and government affairs team.  In fiscal 2014, our work raised 17 out of 206 complaints, and 13 out of 286 complaints in fiscal 2013. Gaz Métro plans to institute feedback mechanisms that are more project-specific in the coming fiscal years.
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