British Columbia

Coastal GasLink building 900-bed work camp for pipeline crews, west of Prince George

Coastal GasLink is starting work on a 900 person work camp for pipeline crews in Vanderhoof, west of Prince George, in partnership with 2 local First Nations.

Despite pipeline controversy, Vanderhoof work camp backed by local First Nations and mayor

Coastal GasLink's Sukunka Lodge near Chetwynd was built for 700 workers on the pipeline project. The Vanderhoof Lodge will be able to house 900. (Coastal GasLink/Contributed )

Coastal GasLink is breaking ground on a 900 person work camp for pipeline crews,  about 100 kilometres west of Prince George. 

As initial work gets underway, Coastal GasLink told CBC News the camp is scheduled to be open by summer.

The Vanderhoof Lodge will be one of 14 work camps housing crews constructing the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, Three camps along the 670 kilometre route are already operating, according to the company.

"All essential activities are continuing along the route," said Suzanne Wilton, Coastal GasLink's communications team Lead.

The pipeline construction along that route has been very controversial.

A portion of the route through the traditional territories of several Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs has sparked high-profile opposition.

When the RCMP raided Wet'suwet'en camps on the contested pipeline route, there were nationwide solidarity marches and rail blockades in support of the hereditary chiefs.

But Coastal GasLink has also signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the route, from northeastern B.C.'s gas fields to an LNG terminal under construction in Kitimat.

Coastal GasLink says the work camp in Vanderhoof is being built in partnership with  the local Nakazdli Whut'en and Saik'uz First Nations. 

And municipal leaders welcome the camp.

"We're pretty excited," Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen told CBC News. 

With the downturn in forestry, Thiessen says he's grateful for the investment in the local economy.

"This is new territory for us. We haven't worked with oil and gas before," said Thiessen. 

The work camp  will consist of modular trailers set in a field near the Vanderhoof airport.

Thiessen says the land, temporarily removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve, includes a small section of hayfield as well as bush that's being cleared.

A paramedic outside a mobile medical unit is monitoring the health of crews builidng a large work camp in Vanderhoof, says Coastal GasLink. (Coastal GasLink/contributed )

Coastal GasLink says the ground's being prepared by a local contractor and crew, who are abiding by health regulations, including physical distancing. Private health care staff are also on site, according to the company.

About the Author

Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener has won numerous national and provincial journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary. Based out of Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.'s energy industry and the Paralympics.

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