As speculation mounts over the future of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in B.C., a new Nanos survey shows that more than two in three Canadians support the project, but just as many are against the idea of spending taxpayer dollars to build it.

Kinder Morgan Canada’s plan to nearly triple the capacity of a pipeline that runs from Alberta’s landlocked oil patch to the British Columbia coast was approved by the federal government in 2016, but B.C.’s New Democrat government and some First Nations have vowed to stop it over environmental concerns.

The company suspended non-essential spending on the $7.4 billion project last month, and set a May 31 deadline for the stakeholders to come to an agreement that would allow it to move forward.

The new survey conducted by Nanos Research for CTV News and the Globe and Mail finds that 67 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support the project, 27 per cent are opposed or somewhat opposed, and six per cent are unsure.

Pollster Nik Nanos said the results highlight an “unsurprising” regional divide, with Quebec and British Columbia “a kind of a new coalition of the anti-pipeline forces.”

But even in those provinces, a plurality of those polled support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, with 54.9 per cent support in Quebec and 59.1 per cent support in British Columbia. Support is highest in the Prairies at 83.6 per cent.

Canadians are more divided on whether they support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s suggestion that the federal government could financially back the project “to remove the uncertainty.” Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley has also said her province would buy into the project, if that’s what it takes.

When asked whether they support the “federal or provincial governments directly investing in pipeline projects,” 44 per cent of those surveyed were opposed or somewhat opposed, 49 per cent supported or somewhat supported the idea and seven per cent were unsure.

Meanwhile, two in three (67 per cent) said they were opposed or somewhat opposed to the “Government of Canada providing taxpayers dollars to Kinder Morgan to expand the Trans Mountain."

“Canadians want the project to move forward but it's not a blank cheque,” Nanos said. “They don't want the federal government to throw money at this.”

The survey also finds a majority of Canadians dislike Notley’s proposal to shut down oil and gas to B.C. if the project doesn’t move forward, with 56 per cent opposed or somewhat opposed to such retaliation, 30 per cent in support and five per cent unsure. Support for retaliation was highest in the Prairies (66.8 per cent) and lowest in B.C. (30.8 per cent).

Nationally, nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of Canadians are concerned or somewhat concerned that the conflict between Alberta and B.C. will have a negative impact on how Canada functions as a federation. One in three (33 per cent) say they aren’t concerned, and two per cent are unsure.

The survey was conducted between April 28 and May 4, using an RDD dual frame (landline and cellphone) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 adult Canadians. The margin of error was ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

With a report from CTV’s Omar Sachedina