When Coastal GasLink announced the pipeline project, one of the things they mentioned was more employment opportunities for locals and so far, they claim to have majority of locals and local contracts out for their project.
In November, the local employment numbers for the pipeline in its sections near Burns Lake were at 50 per cent which then increased to 56 per cent in December, up to 62 per cent in January said Suzanne Wilton, the spokesperson for Coastal GasLink (CGL). In April, that number dropped to 50 per cent however, that was also mainly due to the drop in overall workforce due to spring breakup according to Wilton.
“In June, there were approximately 185 people working in Section 6 and 7 which are the areas nearest to Burns Lake and Houston. The majority of these folks were housed in workforce accommodations at the 7 Mile Lodge. About 80% of those folks were local and/or indigenous, either to the area or from B.C.,” said Wilton adding that there weren’t any further breakdowns on local hires available. She also said that there would be as many as 450 more jobs available soon as the work moves towards mainline construction.
There are four prime contractors working for CGL to build the pipeline. The pipeline route which is 670 kilometres, is divided in to eight sections for constructions. Each contractor is responsible for two sections and PAPC has Sections 6 and 7 under its jurisdiction. These are the sections closest to Burns Lake area. Section 6 ranges from south of Burns Lake to South of Houston and Section 7 ranges from South of Houston to North of Morice Lake.
According to CGL’s Socio-economic Management Plan (SEEMP) report, the workforce peak for 7 Mile Lodge is expected to hit in the months of November to December and the company is expecting at least 697 workers during that time period. The numbers at the 7 Mile Lodge are already on the rise with Summit Camps starting their hiring for several positions including chefs, bakers, sandwich makers, helpers, supervisors, janitors, housekeepers.
Summit Camps, started by Dean Allen, has been working on projects throughout Canada and is now part of the pipeline project where it provides catering services to the workforce accommodations and camps.
“One of the fundamental things we do at Summit camps is hire locally and work with indigenous community for the areas in which the projects we are doing are located. And we have partnered with indigenous communities across canada. Specific to the 7 mile lodge the partnership that is bringing the catering services at the 7 mile lodge is Burns Lake Summit Camp Services Ltd. — a partnership between the Burns Lake Band and Summit Camps,” said Allen.
Andrea Kosalko, Summit Camps director for community relations and human resources, told Lakes District News that there are 15 people on the staff at 7 Mile Lodge of which, seven of them are locals, while the rest are either from elsewhere in B.C. or Alberta.
Chenara Tom, a local from the Wet’suwet’en First Nations, is one of those locals who started working at the 7 Mile Lodge in Burns Lake for Summit Camp Services, as a caretaker in janitorial services just last month. Tom has been trying to convince the locals to apply for the jobs with Summit Camp and for other positions with the pipeline work, now that the hiring is starting in full force.
“I have been telling my friends and family to send in their resumes because I am really enjoying it so far. And we are taking all the necessary precautions masks, sanitizers, and have all measures in place,” said Tom.
“Being close to home is nice and the camp is really like a home away from home.”
George Hemeon, who is a senior manager with CGL for Indigenous and Local Contracting and Employment, said that the upcoming period is going to be crucial for employment as the project is soon entering the mainline construction phase.
“There will be opportunities to support construction like equipment operators, helpers, welders, welders’ helpers, and those kind of things. There will be major hiring that will be happening in the coming weeks and months so those interested local workers should keep their eyes open and should start applying,” said Hemeon.
As of now, Section 6 is undergoing work on the 7 Mile Lodge and parking lot as well as work is being done for stockpiling pipe.
“Up until now clearing activities and road work in the area is what has been happening. We have also continued to do pipe delivery through the break-up period. Pipe delivery for example, recently began to the Burns Lake area, to our Highway 35 site. Most of the deliveries for Sections 6 and 7 are to Highway 35 now near Burns Lake,” said Wilton adding that as the move to mainline construction starts happening, the workforce expansion will also happen simultaneously.
“Now, with that obviously even though we will prefer primarily local, but it will also include recruitement from other areas,” said Wilton.