FortisBC is kicking off construction on a major project in Kimberley – one of five communities in the Kootenay region that will see upgrades to existing energy infrastructure. The work is part of the utility’s second year of construction on its 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,” says 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.”
This year, the utility’s work in Kimberley will take place on sites adjacent to Jim Ogilvie Way north of Marysville. Those heading towards Cranbrook on Highway 95A may also see some work taking place in the vicinity of Wycliffe Park and Mission Wycliffe Roads. FortisBC says it will be working adjacent to the Rails to Trails route in a couple of locations and while crews may be visible periodically, they anticipate no trail closures will be required.
FortisBC says the local community can expect to see socio-economic benefits from the project as a result of the utility’s commitment to community investment 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,” says Wozniak. “We spent $1.7 million locally last year and 44 per cent 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 with construction activities taking place during summer and fall. The work near Kimberley is expected to take close to three years to complete. Check out the project webpage at talkingenergy.ca/inland where you can read more about the Inland Gas Upgrades project and sign up for an e-newsletter.