Both Vanderhoof and Lejac will have camps this summer to build the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will carry gas from Northern B.C. to an LNG Canada plant in Kitimat.
Originally forecast at $4.8 billion when planning first started in 2011, TransCanada’s 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline from the northeastern B.C. gas fields to Kitimat is now estimated to cost $6.2 billion, making it arguably the second largest private sector expenditure in the province’s history.
The camp in Vanderhoof will be built close to the airport and Mayor Gerry Thiessen said it will be a great economic opportunity for the District.
“It is exciting for Vanderhoof and there will be a real opportunity for businesses to expand and do something different… We know we are going through a down turn in the forest economy and we need to make sure our businesses have the chance to re-calibrate,” he said.
The project is still in its planning stage and Thiessen said there is still a lot of work left to be done. District council have moved to send a report to the Agricultural Land Commission and are working towards a temporary use permit, he said, noting council will wait to hear back from the commission before they re-zone to accommodate the camp.
In terms of occupancy numbers at the camp, Suzanne Wilton, senior communications advisor at TransCanada said that both camps at Vanderhoof and Lejac (next to Fraser Lake) will have maximum occupancy less than 250 and 150 respectively. However, full capacity is not expected to be reached this year, she added.
“In 2019, nine camps will be established across the right of way, each with varying occupancy. Additional camps are expected to be added in 2020 as the project progresses and capacity will increase as pipeline construction gets into full swing. In total, there are 14 camps planned with peak occupancy expected in 2020,” Wilton said.
Graham Stanley, general manager of Community Futures Stuart Nechako in Vanderhoof, said the pipeline offers tremendous opportunity to businesses in the community. However, one recommendation he said he would like to give to the business community is to do their cash flow planning.
“The TransCanada pipeline offers a tremendous opportunity for a short term benefit with respect to the impact of the camp. There are long term benefits to the community as well, as they will be monitoring the pipeline, so there is a little employment after the build.”
“We recommend to the business community to do your cash flow planning because you will be able to take advantage of some of the activities and maybe apply for some of the contracts, but you have to recognize it’s a cycle in our town, so you don’t want to build your business around this project because it will end,” Stanley said.
Meanwhile, Sarrah Storrey, mayor of Fraser Lake said the Lejac camp is really positive for the community. The camp is on Nadleh Whut’en property and Storrey said the First Nations community has been integral in getting the camp to the village.
“Nadleh Whut’en has done a majority of the work because the camp is on their property on the Lejac site. They have been working really well with Coastal GasLink and have made all arrangements and plans with them and are making sure that their community members are benefiting and getting some of their jobs.”
“Fraser Lake doesn’t have a lot to do with the camp and we are just making sure that the businesses, vendors and communities are prepared at this point,” she said.
Nadleh Whut’en Chief Larry Nooski declined to comment on the project.
– with files from Rod Link.