This map shows both the FortisBC gas lines and the various work locations both in and around Sparwood that will be affected in the upcoming months. Photo Submitted

Major construction project to begin in Sparwood

Residents will notice crews working throughout August and September this year

FortisBC will be starting construction on a major project in the Sparwood area this August and September.

Sparwood is one of 18 communities that will see upgrades to their natural gas infrastructure as part of the Inland Gas Upgrades project. The project is one of FortisBC’s widest-spanning initiatives yet and will take place across several regions of British Columbia over the next five years.

The upgrades in Sparwood will see the current infrastructure updated and modernized in order to clear passage for a new piece of technology. FortisBC uses technology known as “in-line inspection” tools to gather detailed information about the condition of gas lines. The current infrastructure in and around Sparwood is not compatible with these tools and therefore needs to be upgraded.

According to a press release from FortisBC, “as it stands, several sharp bends would need to be rounded, while certain valves or fittings may need to be replaced. Once this work is complete, FortisBC will be able to run the tool through each line until they can receive it, obstruction free, on the other side.”

Most of the work this year will be rural and will largely take place on existing FortisBC rights of way. Residents of the Elk Valley may see crews working east of Sparwood along the Elk Valley Highway. Certain upgrades will also be taking place further south along Highway 3 toward Corbin Road.

FortisBC noted that “given the length of the gas line – 79 kilometres – the utility anticipates that upgrade work in the Elk Valley will occur during seasonal construction windows over approximately five years.”

This work will also include future construction near Elkford and at several other locations extending northeast towards Mount O’Rourke.

FortisBC also announced that they are happy to be working with the support of various community groups and local businesses on this project.

“We are thrilled to have partnered with local Indigenous business, Nupqu Development Corporation from the Ktunaxa Nation, who we hired to help with clearing and other preparation activities to ensure our work sites were ready for construction,” said Scott Bartlett, project director of major projects at FortisBC. “We believe in investing where we work, and will continue to look for great opportunities like this to do so.”

As construction continues, FortisBC will be taking special measures to ensure the safety of workers and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crews will follow physical distancing measures and will be provided with extra personal protective equipment.

For more information about gas line construction in the Sparwood area, or about the Inland Gas Upgrades project, visit Talkingenergy.ca/inlandgasupgrades.



reporter@thefreepress.ca

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