With approximately 120 newly-arrived Coastal GasLink pipeline workers in the Burns Lake area, sectors such as food and accommodation are doing all they can to keep up with the demand, according to the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce.
“Some businesses in town have changed their hours of operation to accommodate the workers’ schedules, which is great to see,” said Randi Amendt, the Chamber’s executive director. “The accommodation and lodging sector is booked solid until March.
“Grocery stores, gas stations and many of the retail stores are also keeping very busy.”
While the 7 Mile Road Lodge, a 21-hectare workforce camp just south of Burns Lake, was originally expected to be completed by the end of last month, weather and ground conditions have caused construction delays, said Terry Cunha, a spokesperson for Coastal GasLink.
The camp is now expected to be completed by the end of February, he said. Meanwhile, the 120 workers are staying in local accommodations.
Mayor Dolores Funk said that while it’s been difficult to find a hotel room in Burns Lake, many businesses are seeing a spike in sales.
To help meet the increased demand, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 50 has been providing daily lunches with a variety of homemade soups, sandwiches and salads. But Jim McBride, Branch No. 50 president, said the new service not solely because of the pipeline workers.
“In all honesty, we have been discussing this adventure for well over a year,” McBride said.
The 7 Mile Road Lodge is expected to house up to 600 workers at peak occupancy. With increased demand for services, the Village of Burns Lake is also watching for potential problems that may arise.
Last month Funk said the village will be closely monitoring the camp and pipeline construction.
“It is exciting to have so much activity in town; however, we do need to be prepared to deal with any negative issues as they surface,” Funk said, adding the village is in direct contact with sub-contractors working for TC Energy and is also part of a Lake Babine Nation-led committee formed to address potential social issues related to the camp.
TC Energy has identified several potential adverse effects related to pipeline construction such as increased demand on local emergency and government services as part of its socio-economic effects management plan — a requirement resulting from the provincial government’s environmental assessment and approval.
The document lists mitigation actions such as communication with local emergency service providers and RCMP detachments starting three months before construction.
As approximately 390,000 tonnes of pipe will be needed for the 670-kilometre pipeline project, TC Energy says traffic management and safety plans are also in place to minimize any impact to local roads and communities.