FortisBC kicks off major project in the East Kootenay
FortisBC will be kicking off construction on a major project in the East Kootenay this summer.
Sparwood, Cranbrook, and Mackenzie up north, are the first of 18 communities to see upgrades to natural gas infrastructure as part of the Inland Gas Upgrades project. One of FortisBC’s widest-spanning projects yet, upgrades will take place across the Northern, Cariboo, Thompson-Okanagan and Kootenay regions of B.C. over an estimated five years.
FortisBC notes that the upgrade work in the East Kootenay will enhance the utility’s ability to carry out proactive maintenance on its infrastructure. Through the use of technology known as “in-line inspection” tools, the company would be able to gather detailed information about the inside condition of each gas line. According to FortisBC, this will allow for better planning and management of maintenance work.
There’s a catch: to run this technology smoothly, the utility will need to upgrade existing infrastructure in order to ensure clear passage for the tools. That’s where this upcoming construction comes in. As it stands, several sharp bends would need to be rounded, while certain valves or fittings may need to be replaced. Once this work is complete, FortisBC will be able to run the tool through each line until they can receive it, obstruction-free, on the other side.
The company indicated the value it places on supporting local communities and businesses where they work.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with local Indigenous business, Nupqu Development Corporation from the Ktunaxa Nation, who we hired to help with clearing and other preparation activities to ensure our work sites were ready for construction,” said Scott Bartlett, Project Director, Major Projects at FortisBC. “We believe in investing where we work, and will continue to look for great opportunities like this to do so.”
As for what the community can expect, the utility says that most of the work this year will be rural and largely take place on existing FortisBC rights-of-way.
In the Sparwood area, you may see crews working east of town along Highway 3. Certain upgrades will also take place further south along Highway 3 toward Corbin Road. Given the length of gas line—almost 79 kilometres—the utility anticipates that upgrade work in the Elk Valley will occur during seasonal construction windows over approximately five years. This will include future work near Elkford and at other locations extending northeast towards Mount O’Rourke.
Cranbrook residents may see crews working in the Gold Creek area heading south along Gold Creek Road toward Caven Road.
The utility anticipates that upgrade work in the Cranbrook area will take place during seasonal construction windows over approximately three years, including in some areas of increased visibility starting in 2021. The company has committed to keeping the community informed once they have the specifics on future upgrades.
On the COVID-19 pandemic, FortisBC says it is advancing critical projects such as this one while taking special measures to ensure the safety of workers and area residents. These special measures include keeping appropriate physical distancing and providing additional personal protective equipment for crews.
Maps courtesy FortisBC