(L-R) Sunny Deol, a Project Manager with TC Energy and Kiel Giddens, Public Affairs Manager give a presentation about the progress of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project to the board of directors of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako on Oct. 10 in Burns Lake. (Blair McBride photos)

Prep work starts on Burns Lake pipeline camp

Preparations for the construction of TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project are ramping up across the north and clearing work has begun for the work camp near Burns Lake.

That was among the many updates given in a presentation by TC’s public affairs manager Kiel Giddens to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako on Oct. 10.

The work camp, also known as the 7-Mile Road Multi-use site north of Tchesinkut Lake is expected to accommodate up to 600 workers.

They will next year build Section 6 of the pipeline that will pass south of Burns Lake. Section 7 will go south of Houston.

READ MORE: Pipeline work to start in 2020, CGL says

Elsewhere, almost 500 workers have already moved into three work camps in two areas along the pipeline route. The pipe will carry natural gas to the processing facility in Kitimat where it will be turned into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and then exported by ship.

“One hundred and six workers are housed in 9A southwest of Houston and 70 more east of Kitimat at Hunter Creek Lodge, and 300 workers at Sitka lodge in Kitimat,” Giddens said.

Site preparations are ongoing for the Lejac work camp and the first labourers – who will work on Section 5 of the pipeline – are scheduled to arrive in late October.

“In Section 4 we’re still evaluating plans now that the Vanderhoof airport workforce accommodation site permit has been turned down by the Agricultural Land Commission. It has impacted our schedule. One hundred to 120 folks will this fall need to stay in local hotels and accommodation.”

Clearing is underway for the camps in the first three sections of the route in northeastern British Columbia.

In Section 8 near Kitimat, half of the clearing work for the pipeline route is finished. The mountainous terrain of that area has turned clearing tasks into a big effort and a cable crane has been installed to lift workers and equipment up to the higher elevations.

“No construction has started yet on [pipeline] right of way for Sections 6 and 7 but permit approvals are being finalized. We’re progressing with environmental field studies,” Giddens said.

The construction of the actual pipeline will begin in the third fiscal quarter of 2020 and the TC spokesperson detailed its sequence.

“Crews mark and identify the pipeline location and the topsoil is removed and stored. The ground is then prepared for equipment to travel on and backhoes dig the trench for the pipe. The crews line up the pipe, a machine bends it to the contour of land. The pipe is examined with x-rays and it’s coated with anti-corrosion materials and then lowered into the trench. The soil is later returned to the trench and the pipeline is buried and the land prepared for reclamation.”

Before any natural gas is sent through, the pipeline will be tested by filling it with water and pressurizing it to a high level.

In the final phase of construction, the right of way will be stabilized and drainage patterns of the land re-established.

“The goal is to bring the land as close as possible to its original state,” Giddens said.

The target date to begin moving natural gas through the pipeline is 2023.

The TC spokesperson emphasized that addressing public concerns with the project is a top priority for the company and he cited the example of Bobby Seinen, who was at the RDBN meeting.

Seinen spoke to the RDBN board of directors on Sept. 19 and criticized the safety issues posed by increased traffic on the Morice River Forest Service Road, south of Houston.

LOOK BACK: RDBN nixes pipeline camp build permit bid

“Once we were made aware of the concerns we immediately contacted Mrs. Seinen and today after the meeting our construction team will meet and talk about the Morice FSR. We work with the road users group on that issue. It’s a relevant example of how members of the public contact us about the project,” Giddens explained.

At that Sept. 19 meeting, the board voted down TC’s application for a temporary use permit at the Huckleberry Multi-use Site. The issues related to the site will be discussed at the RDBN’s board meeting on Oct. 24, Giddens said.

Seinen’s concerns will be communicated to the road users group committee of Canfor, who is the main permit holder on Morice Forest Service Road, a TC spokesperson confirmed in an email to Lakes District News. TC personnel also met with Seinen on Oct. 10 to discuss her concerns.

In response to a question about opposition to the pipeline from some Indigenous people in the region, Giddens said TC regards Indigenous land use and title as very important.

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs demand stop work order against CGL

READ MORE: RCMP arrest 14 people in northern B.C. over anti-LNG pipeline protest

READ MORE: Likhts’amisyu clan vows to build new blockade

“Within Wet’suwet’en territory…we’ve worked with elected bands and we have agreements in place. In the hereditary leadership there’s a mix of chiefs who support and some who oppose the project. It’s a challenge. We use the maps provided by the Office of the Wet’suwet’en itself,” he explained.

“We’ve brought elders and hereditary chiefs into our crews to work with us and provide some of that traditional land use and traditional ecological knowledge that is critical to getting the right information in place. We were unable to access certain areas because of blockade activities. We’re [accessing] them now with Wet’suwet’en members on the ground.”

The spokesperson also detailed some of the financial and economic benefits the project will bring to the region.

There will be 2,500 jobs created during the pipeline construction, with more than $1 billion worth of contracts and employment opportunities for local and Indigenous companies in the north.

Since 2012 TC has invested more than $8.5 million in local and regional non-profit organizations focussed on safety, the environment and education, and $3 million on skills training.

Across northern B.C. it will pay at least $21 million in property taxes and the RDBN portion would be around $8.3 million. “[The RDBN is the] largest region we pass through and pay property taxes to,” Giddens said.

TC is planning open house and job fair events across northern B.C. in the fall. The Burns Lake fair will take place on Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. at the Island Gospel Fellowship Church and the Houston fair on Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. in the Houston Community Hall. Fairs will also happen in Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof and Prince George.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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