Construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in Kamloops began this week with preparatory work underway for a seven-kilometre stretch through that will take about seven months to complete.
A workforce of up to 50 people is in the city this month and that number will swell to approximately 600 workers at the peak of construction in August.
“Initially, we’ll be setting up a construction yard and commencing work up and around Ord Road, north of the airport,” Trans Mountain president and CEO Ian Anderson told KTW.
Work in June and early July will involve preparing yards and construction sites in the city, followed by installation of the new pipeline in the vicinity of Ord and Tranquille roads near the airport.
In July, the pipeline will pass under the Thompson River near Tranquille Road, east of the airport, to the south side of the river using trenchless crossing techniques in which a drill bores under the river to pull the pipeline through to the other side.
That work was initially pegged for April, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anderson said the work under the river is expected to be seamless, noting crews replaced the existing pipeline that passes under the Thompson River last summer, in under two months. Changes to the riverbed over time moved the old line closer to the bottom of the river, so a new line was placed lower in the ground, he said.
Construction will continue on the south end of the city, travelling up the hillside, west of Mount Dufferin and toward the Trans Mountain terminal south of city, near Highway 1 and Lac Le Jeune Road.
Anderson pegged spring 2021 before any significant construction begins around the Jacko Lake area southwest of Aberdeen.
Clearing the right-of-way for the section of pipeline expansion running along the Lac Du Bois grasslands above Westsyde won’t begin until the fall and installation of that section of pipeline will not commence until next summer.
Work from Valemont south to Kamloops and from Kamloops toward Merritt will begin this fall.
“This fall will be a busy time — come August, September — across the whole corridor,” Anderson said.
Weather permitting, construction will be around the clock. Anderson said at its 600-worker peak, multiple sites in Kamloops will be worked on at once.
Temperature checks and other measures in place during pandemic
Anderson said work in the Kamloops area has been ready to proceed for some time, with all permits, approvals and planning work in place. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Trans Mountain delayed starting construction locally for about two months to ensure its pandemic safety measures were working properly.
“We wanted those to be known, understood and in place before we introduced any new worksites,” Anderson said.
Trans Mountain plans to work with about four local hotels to start providing services in June and will include additional properties as the workforce grows.
In total, 17 hotels and motels in Kamloops have been identified as suitable to accommodate Trans Mountain’s workforce.
The company has myriad COVID-19 measures it is implementing, including maintaining one person per hotel room, spacing for dining, extra cleaning requirements and maintaining spacing during transport to worksites.
Anderson said he feels Trans Mountain can build the pipeline safely during the pandemic with measures in place, which include staggering work shifts, implementing a work-from-home approach when possible, following physical-distancing protocols, enhanced cleaning and sanitization, use of personal protective equipment at worksites and temperature testing.
“We’ll be doing temperature screening of every worker every day as they attend the worksite,” he said. “We have daily records kept of where they’re staying, what their health conditions are. We’ll be doing contact tracing if there are any symptoms.”
Anyone showing signs of illness will need to be taken off the job site and isolated until testing can occur, Anderson said.
Worker camps near Merritt and Valemount are still expected to be constructed and Anderson said distancing measures will also be implemented at those facilities.
Workforce to be mostly locals
Anderson said the “vast majority” of the 600 workers will be British Columbians and the majority of those people will be from the Interior and Kamloops areas, noting exact numbers won’t be known until all hiring is done.
“Virtually all of our subcontractors are going to be local,” he said. “The only people that will be coming in from elsewhere would be experienced pipeline builders and construction workforce, but all of the other trades and services will be hired locally.”
He said the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation will have a “significant amount of involvement in the work,” noting the band and its partners have already been issued contracts, with more to come, citing security and hydro-vac services as examples.
The pipeline expansion project has been met with plenty of protests over the years and Anderson said the company will have security in place at all sites in Kamloops to ensure worker safety, noting most of that work has gone to Indigenous contractors.
He also noted injunctions in place in B.C., which he hopes the company will not need to use.
“We’re confident we have had and will continue to have the measures in place to ensure that things remain safe,” Anderson said.
Trans Mountain estimates construction spending in the Kamloops area to be more than $450 million over the next two years, with additional workforce spending of more than $40 million for goods and services at local businesses.
After expansion, Trans Mountain’s contribution to the City of Kamloops in taxes will increase by $1.6 million — moving from $1.2 million to $2.8 million annually.
Trans Mountain’s community benefit agreement with the City of Kamloops will see another $700,000 contributed to the city, which will now be transferred once work begins.
The company is also committing $500,000 over 20 years toward funding annual awards for students in trades, social work, research programs, and environmental sciences.
In addition to employment contracts, Trans Mountain’s $3 million community benefit agreement with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc will provide support for needed community infrastructure upgrades.
Kamloops is part of Trans Mountain’s Interior construction area that begins at Black Pines and runs to the Coquihalla Summit, which includes approximately 185 kilometres of 36-inch pipeline, 18 valve assembly installations and three pump stations.
Construction updates in Kamloops:
• The Ord Road dog park will temporarily close due to pipeline expansion work. Trans Mountain donated $170,000 for development of a new dog park nearby, on Aviation Way.
• As part of preparation for the pipeline expansion, Trans Mountain is salvaging cryptogamic crust — made up of mosses, lichens, algae and bacteria — in Kenna Cartwright Park, which is then transferred to a storage location until the reclamation phase of the project. The harvested cryptogamic crust will then be replaced in the areas of the park disturbed during construction.
• The Cando stockpile site off Mission Flats Road is receiving and storing construction materials.
• Work is underway at the Black Pines pump station, which includes clearing, installing fencing, installing piles and pouring concrete, installing mechanical equipment, piping and welding, construction of structural steel and buildings, electrical installation and instrumentation and restoration of the site.
• At the Kamloops terminal, work underway includes relocating portions of certain tank lines and a relief line, relocating a fire water line and electrical line and replacing piping.
• Along the Kamloops to Coquihalla summit right-of-way, preparatory activities will commence in a series of phases, including surveying, flagging and staking, as well as relocation of utilities.
To view a map of construction through Kamloops, go to https://www.transmountain.com/kamloops?b=50.686%2C-120.399%2C50.693%2C-120.38&u=kamloops-temporary-use-of-lands.