Canada’s federal government plans to kick off the sale of a stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline by meeting with indigenous communities as early as next week in Vancouver, according to two people familiar with the plan.

The government will be meeting with members of some of the roughly 130 indigenous groups that have shown interest in a partial ownership stake, one of the people said. The planned gathering follows the issuance of a letter to indigenous communities saying the government intends to sell a stake in Trans Mountain to individual indigenous communities through a special-purpose vehicle, allowing the government to balance competing groups’ requests to own a piece of the project.  

The Canadian finance ministry declined to comment.

The pipeline, which will roughly triple the volume of Alberta crude that can be sent to the Vancouver area to 890,000 barrels a day, is opposed by many British Columbia indigenous communities who fear it will threaten their traditional lands and sully waterways and land.

The government bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan Inc. in 2018 to keep alive a planned expansion that the company was threatening to cancel amid fierce opposition. The expansion is scheduled to start operation next year after years of delays and the ballooning of project costs to almost $31 billion (US$23 billion).