FortisBC renews major project works in region
The company is returning to work in Cranbrook and Sparwood and will be kicking off new work in the vicinity of Kimberley, Skookumchuck and Elkford.
These are five of the 18 communities around the province that will see some of the utility’s existing infrastructure upgraded during the approximately five-year-long Inland Gas Upgrades project.
FortisBC explains the project will allow the utility to use new technology to enhance its existing maintenance program. Known as “in-line inspection” tools, this technology will be used to examine and provide detailed information about the interior condition of each gas line. The company expects to use the data it obtains to plan and manage proactive maintenance more efficiently.
The main purpose of the planned construction is to upgrade existing gas lines by rounding out sharp bends and replacing some fittings so the inspection tools can travel unobstructed through each line from end-to-end.
“We made very good progress in 2020 and hope to continue that trend in 2021,” said Mykol Wozniak, senior project manager for FortisBC’s Inland Gas Upgrades work. “This year’s work includes a few new locations and while most of it takes place along our existing rights-of-way, people may see our crews working alongside highways or roads.”
In 2020, FortisBC saw approximately 150 people work on this project in Sparwood, Cranbrook and Mackenzie. This year the company expects similar numbers and up to 300 people working during peak construction periods.
The majority of this year’s work is taking place in the Kootenay region again.
FortisBC says the East Kootenay can expect to see additional socio-economic benefits from the project as a result of the utility’s commitment to community investment, supporting training opportunities and hiring local businesses.
“We contracted 89 British Columbia-based suppliers for the project last year – over half of which were local to the three communities where we worked, including Cranbrook and Sparwood,” said Wozniak. “This accounted for $1.7 million being spent locally across the project, and 44% of that was to Indigenous suppliers.”
When asked about the COVID-19 pandemic, FortisBC says its primary goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of its employees, contractors, and surrounding communities.
The utility has introduced additional safety measures and expects everyone working on this project to respect safety plans and protocol, and strictly follow Ministry of Health orders and guidelines.
FortisBC expects preparation work to start in June in most areas, with construction activities taking place during summer and fall.
Work notifications will be published with local media in the coming weeks and more information is available at talkingenergy.ca/inland including work location maps, project updates and the ability to sign up for an e-newsletter.