There were 208 workers at the Huckleberry Lodge in Houston before the holiday break. (Coastal GasLink photo)

There were 208 workers at the Huckleberry Lodge in Houston before the holiday break. (Coastal GasLink photo)

Coastal GasLink gets a nod to increase workforce from 963 to 2,787 people

One new COVID case in section 1 of the pipeline identified; no lodge affected

The Coastal GasLink’s workforce numbers are set to increase from 963 to 2,787, ahead of the spring thaw.

In a letter sent to the village of Burns Lake, the company said that Northern Health and the B.C. Provincial Health Office (PHO) had authorized Coastal GasLink (CGL) to increase their workforce over the coming weeks, ahead of spring thaw that typically occurs in March.

CGL, along with many other industrial projects had been imposed with updated workforce limits by the public health order on Jan. 12 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The increase in the workforce would mean resumption of CGL’s Indigenous construction monitoring and community liaison (CMCL) program that focuses on addressing environmental, safety and integrity risks, according to the letter.

The 2,787 workers will be distributed across the various sections of the 670-kilometre pipeline route.

“I want to be clear that the added workforce does not enable significant construction re-mobilization at this time,” said the letter.

The letter also outlined CGL’s COVID-19 management plan that included retaining the expertise of B.C.’s Dr. Allan Holmes and Iridia Medical for improving upon their prevention efforts, implementing a standard set of protocols across the project to maintain consistency with all prime contractors and workforce lodges, enforcing stricter adherence to the COVID-19 restrictions including mandatory masks and terminating those who don’t comply.

Under the plan, CGL also has restricted travel to local communities as well as between workforce lodges.

According to CGL, the development of their new COVID-19 management plan has been an important step in getting the approval in the increased workforce.

CGL also released their February construction update last week. By the end of January, there were 613 workers across the pipeline route and that number increased to 963 field workers as of Feb. 17.

CGL also had one new COVID case associated with its section 1, which is west of Dawson creek to south of Chetwynd. However, the case has not affected the workforce accommodation, according to the company.

The new case takes the total COVID-19 cases associated with the pipeline since March 2020, to 81 cases.

In January, the section 5 which stretches from north of Vanderhoof to south of Burns Lake, had 26 workers at Little Rock Lake Lodge near Fraser Lake, section 6 which stretches from south of Burns Lake to south of Houston had 93 workers at the 7 Mile Lodge in Burns Lake and section 7 which stretches from south of Houston to north of Morice Lake, had 32 workers at the Huckleberry lodge in Houston.

While almost 5.3 per cent pipe installation work has been completed in section 5, 17 per cent installation has been completed in section 6. No pipe installation work had started as of end of January in section 7.

According to CGL’s update, whole the construction has slowed down considerably across its route, there has been a 0.2 per cent increase in construction progress over the month of January.

ALSO READ: Pipeline, dams will see a slow restart due to COVID-19 risk

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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