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Posted: August 13, 2020

Gas line project generates work for local businesses

A growing local First Nation business is one of the first to benefit from FortisBC gas line upgrades now underway in the region.

Ktunaxa Nation-owned Nupqu recently completed site clearing for the FortisBC project, which is upgrading more than 200 kilometres of gas line in the area so it can run state-of-art, in-line inspection tools through it.

Nupqu’s business development manager Kevin Wilson said they partnered with another Ktunaxa Nation-owned company called Kettle River Contracting to complete clearing work along FortisBC rights-of-way. This work helped to prepare and make the sites safe for upcoming construction.

“This is a great example of how we’re working with companies within the Ktunaxa network to grow the scope of services we can offer,” Wilson said. “Nupqu is owned by the Indigenous communities that make up the Ktunaxa Nation and our mandate is to support those communities wherever we can. In the big picture, we see a future for our company as a quarterback, a prime contractor, tapping into our network and putting a team together to get a job done.”

The FortisBC job is one of many undertaken by Nupqu this year that will see it directly employ about 65 people – 60% of them Ktunaxa community members – to do forestry, environmental and safety management work.

FortisBC Indigenous relations manager, Blair Weston, said he had witnessed Nupqu’s flourishing firsthand as the company grew to a business that could confidently provide a variety of resource management services.

“We first hired Nupqu to do some clearing work for us on a small project and continued to work with them on specific jobs over a span of 10 years,” Weston said. “They got to a place, and now have the capacity, where they are able to take on large-scale project work for us.”

The FortisBC Inland Gas Upgrades project will upgrade 29 sections of natural gas lines located in communities in the Kootenay, Northern, Thompson-Okanagan and Cariboo regions of B.C. These upgrades will enhance the utility’s ability to carry out proactive maintenance on its system. Work started this year and is expected to take up to five years to complete.

Above images: Nupqu workers in action near Sparwood. Photos submitted

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