It’s going to be a few months yet before Houston and area residents will have a more exact picture of how many locals are working on the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project and of the level of spending there is in the community that’s tied to the project.
The company did publish in July the first of what will be a continuing series of reports outlining the socio-economic implications of the pipeline project to connect northeastern B.C. gas fields with the LNG Canada liquefied natural gas plant now under construction at Kitimat.
That report contained figures amassed along the entire 670-kilometre pipeline route from December 2018 to June 2019 and are considered preliminary as preparations accelerate in preparation for full construction to start in 2020.
“Construction activities have just begun on limited work fronts,” says Coastal GasLink official Suzanne Wilton of the company’s progress so far this year.
“We are working with our prime contractors to collect employment data and expect to have a more complete picture for the next reporting period,” she said.
The next reporting period is to cover July to December.
Wilton said the company is “committed to maximizing the economic and employment opportunities for Indigenous and local communities and businesses and continue to work with our contractors to meet those commitments.”
In Houston and area late spring estimates placed pipeline direct and indirect employment at between 50 and 100 people.
Local work has been concentrated on preparing a large work camp for occupation next year, preparing access roads and blasting to remove rock along the intended pipeline route has been going on between Houston and Kitimat.
Some direct and indirect pipeline project workers are staying in Houston but the intent is to have the large majority live at the camp now under construction.
Wilton said the expected local hiring and local spending data will come from monthly reports Coastal GasLink is requiring from its four prime contractors who will do the pipeline construction.
Two of those prime contractors are active in Houston — Pacific Atlantic Pipeline Construction and the joint venture of Macro-Spiecapag better known as MSJV.
To June 2019, Coastal GasLink, in its July 2019 report, said it had let contracts worth $725 million with $720 million of that total going to Indigenous companies.
The company however, qualified the latter figure, saying “in many cases the Indigenous category includes contract awards to local Indigenous and local non-Indigenous businesses that are working together on Coastal GasLink.”
In what the company describes as “field labour,” there were 143,702 hours of reported labour by Indigenous workers, placing their participation at 24 per cent of total hours, 112,087 hours for B.C. residents, placing this participation at 19 per cent of total hours and 20,669 reported hours for women, placing this category at 4 per cent of reported hours.
But, said Coastal GasLink, “reported hours may have overlaps as individuals may be represented in more than one labour group. Therefore numbers should be looked at as standalone and not be rolled into a cumulative value.”
Costal Gas Link wa to meet with the District Of Houston last Friday, but that meeting was rescheduled until Oct. 23.