In a July update, Coastal GasLink (CGL) said their workforce is expected to grow more as the company prepares for pipe installation beginning August.
A “significant focus” in June for the pipeline company was to get workforce accommodations ready to receive workers, in addition to implementing health and safety measures for COVID-19, stated a July 17 news release.
In terms of progress, clearing is underway across the 670-kilometre pipeline route that stretches from Dawson Creek to Kitimat. Overall, the company reports close to 80 per cent of the clearing work is done with the least amount of progress in Section 7 (south of Houston to south of Hazelton), which includes the Unist’ot’en camp that has been at the centre of a dispute between CGL and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
As per the news release, 21 percent of grading work had also been completed by the end of last month in Section 8, which covers North of Morice Lake to Kitimat.
Lodges have been built at Vanderhoof and Burns Lake, with the initial wave of workers moving into their accommodations at the end of June.
Development of the Huckleberry camp near Houston is also underway and Summit Camps, CGL’s contractor is taking applications for chef, first cooks, cold prep, sandwich makers, cooks helpers, dining room monitors, general helpers, night supervisors, bakers, bakers helpers, janitors, housekeepers and head housekeepers.
Meanwhile, in June, the provincial Environmental Assessment office ordered Coastal GasLink to cease construction within 30 metres of 42 ecologically and socio-economically important wetlands (ESIWs) for failing to implement “mitigation measures to avoid or reduce adverse effects to wetlands” and “undertaking construction activities in advance of the completion of pre-construction wetland surveys.”
The company may not restart construction activities in these areas until surveys are completed and a qualified professional in wetlands conservation has completed a report documenting any damage to the identified ESIWs and construction preparation surveys are completed.
The company is also be required to incorporate the findings of the report into its Wetlands Monitoring Program and provide compensation for “loss of wetland area, habitat function, biogeochemical function, or hydrological function.”
CGL said in a prepared statement that work was already underway to return to compliance.
“Environmental assessment work was conducted by Coastal GasLink contractors on all wetlands identified in this order prior to construction or disturbance, but how and when the assessment was done did not follow our wetland management plan’s specific requirements,” the statement read.
In a press release, the Unist’ot’en criticized both the company and the EAO saying the potential damage goes well beyond the 42 identified sites and it is unacceptable the company was allowed to proceed as far as it has without enforcement action.
“The BC EAO’s priority should be to protect the public interest, not to ensure that CGL’s construction timelines are met,” the release stated.
They are also skeptical that the enforcement order will do what it is intended to do.
“These are the same qualified professionals who authorized machinery to operate through protected wetlands across almost 80 per cent of the route without proper assessments or site-specific mitigation plans,” the release stated.
With files from Thom Barker.