The Morrissey bridge to the south of Fernie has been repaired ahead of its use as the major access point for pipeline construction work to the east of Fernie in 2022, 2023 and 2024. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

The Morrissey bridge to the south of Fernie has been repaired ahead of its use as the major access point for pipeline construction work to the east of Fernie in 2022, 2023 and 2024. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Pipeline worker surge on the go in Fernie

Local businesses are being supported by tips from Tourism Fernie and the Fernie Chamber on how to not be overwhelmed

Businesses in Fernie are on notice that there’ll be a lot more foot traffic through their doors in coming months.

In a release to local operators, Tourism Fernie and the Fernie Chamber of Commerce have provided a cheat-sheet on what to expect when it comes to the incoming TC Energy pipeline work and the associated workers who will be calling the valley home for the next few months.

“There are many opportunities for the business community to adjust operations, products, and services, or even create new offerings to help meet the needs of the project,” reads the release, which is made up of information gathered from the primary contractors for the three-year pipeline project, which they said were “fully committed to actively supporting the local community and culture throughout the duration of the project.”

Workers for the project (which is estimated to spike at 550 per week in September) will be spread throughout the valley, staying at local hotels, the RV resort and short-term rentals in Fernie, with more staying in Sparwood and Fort Steele.

The hours of those workers is what was the focus of both Tourism Fernie and the chamber, with all workers sharing consistent hours: Monday through to Sunday, leaving town for the worksite between 6-6:30am and returning from 5:30pm onward, in a mix of private vehicles and buses.

With a surge in workers departing and arriving at the same time, the Tourism / Chamber release included some information on what local operators could do to cater for them in order to not be overwhelmed, such as suggesting to-go breakfasts and pre-made lunches on the menu. On Saturday nights and Sundays, operators can expect those workers to spend more time in town eating out or enjoying Fernie’s many offerings.

Worker numbers have been ramping up since the start of July, with a peak in September. Numbers will taper down to less than a hundred by the start of November.

The TC Energy Pipeline project will continue through to 2024, having begun in late May 2022. Workforce numbers will fluctuate with spikes in summer ‘22 and ‘23, with a reduced workforce in ‘24 to clean up. The pipeline itself is a 31km stretch of 48-inch diametre pipeline 18km to the east of Fernie, connecting Southern B.C. and US markets with gas producers in Alberta.

The access point from Hwy. 3 will be the Morrissey bridge, to the south of Fernie, which was upgraded to tolerate high industrial traffic last year.

Anyone with questions or suggestions on how to improve resources directing pipeline workers on what is open and available to them can email pipelineproject@tourismfernie.com.

READ MORE: Pipeline work to bring hundreds of workers to Fernie

READ MORE: Pipeline project contractor yard to be located near Hwy. 3-Morrissey Road intersection



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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