The pipeline glitters, but is it gold?

The pipeline glitters, but is it gold?

The Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project of TC Energy could prove to be an economic boom for Burns Lake and northern British Columbia.

As many as 2,500 jobs will be created across the region during the pipeline’s four-year construction phase, according to TC.

The company estimates that the 7-Mile Road Multi-Use Site, just north of Tchesinkut Lake will accommodate 600 workers who will build the section of pipeline that passes south of Burns Lake. Then there’s the contractors who will clear trees for the pipeline route and provide other services like snow clearance and road works.

And then there’s the camp staff, including management and administrative personnel with Pacific Atlantic Pipeline Construction, cooks, maintenance workers, security, and other roles.

On top of that is the added business that local shops, restaurants, bars and services will receive from the influx of hundreds of workers tied to the project.

In fact, there could be so many customers and new people in town that local supply might not meet demand.

But fast forward to 2024 or 2025 when the pipeline is finished and natural gas is flowing through to the processing facility in Kitimat. What happens then? The camps will be dismantled, local workers will have to find other jobs and the workers who came here for the project and who called Burns Lake home for a few years will probably go elsewhere.

Still, there will be permanent jobs. TC estimates that across the 670-kilometre length of the pipeline 16 to 35 permanent pipeline maintenance and monitoring positions will be created. But it’s a long pipeline that passes by several communities and only a handful of people in Burns Lake will get those jobs.

And there will be continuous revenue in the form of $20.88 million in annual property taxes to local governments, of which the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako will get $8.36 million.

That influx will help fund local infrastructure and community projects in the region, but will it develop the local economy so that long-term, sustainable jobs are created?

An optimistic outlook is that the heightened activity in skilled jobs that the pipeline will generate could spur people to open new businesses, such as tradespeople starting new contracting companies, or camp service staff opening new restaurants.

However, a pessimistic view is that since Burns Lake will only be a transit point for the pipeline, the reason all those jobs were created will lose relevance. With forestry not as strong as it was years ago, there won’t be any new resource for those workers to develop. Some might decide to go somewhere with more demand for their skills.

Burns Lake should be excited about the jobs and economic activity the pipeline will create. But it should also consider how it can leverage the economic upswing to its long-term advantage to develop business and draw people to the community.

If the opportunities of the pipeline aren’t pursued wisely, the economic boom risks becoming a bust.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Questions around rail safety, firefighter safety, cleanup near the rail yards and tracks, whistle cessation, etc were raised during the RDBN meeting with CN. (File photo)
‘Lot of our concerns are still not being heard,’ say RDBN directors on CN’s response

Frustrated over lack of solutions, despite communicating their concerns to CN

Barbara Patrick. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
Former Burns Lake local to play the first Indigenous character in a Hallmark movie

Barbara Patrick, a former LDSS student takes a huge step for the Indigenous community

The Burns Lake RCMP is supportive of having a ticketing bylaw in place even though there would be limitations on what they could ticket on. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake might be getting a ticketing bylaw

Will help extend RCMP’s authority to attend to noise complaints

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Most Read