Teck has un-shelved plans for a central office location in Sparwood with space for 550 workstations. (Image courtesy of Teck)

Teck has un-shelved plans for a central office location in Sparwood with space for 550 workstations. (Image courtesy of Teck)

Teck resurrects central office plan for Sparwood

The company will be seeking temporary use permits for temporary offices until the central office is complete

Teck has dusted off plans for a purpose-built, central office complex in Sparwood that were shelved back in 2019.

In a presentation to the district council on Dec.7, manager of projects at Teck, Robert Rowe explained that the eight separate offices the company had spread around Sparwood were at capacity, and functionally not fit for purpose as the company wanted it’s workers in one central location.

The company has internal approval to proceed with the final design schematics of a building that will be large enough for 550 staff, and would be located on Teck-owned land to the south of the intersection of Hwy. 3 and Hwy. 43 (near the pedestrian underpass).

The central office plan had been given the go-ahead back in late 2018, but faced market (and later pandemic) challenges.

READ MORE: Teck announces new Sparwood office

“Unfortunately we had to place it on hold in the Fall of 2019 when market conditions dramatically changed … commodity prices impacted Teck significantly so we decided to put this project on hold for six months,” said Rowe.

“Then, unfortunately, that’s when the pandemic kicked in.”

Since then, design parameters and requirements had changed as the company looked to creating a more pandemic-proof building with different ventilation requirements along with cubicle size and corridor width considerations.

The building, which Rowe said the company hoped to be building by the first quarter of 2023, is currently in the final design schematic phase.

Rowe said the company was looking to accelerate the timeline for ground breaking and construction, but as of now they hoped to have it completed in 2024.

“Hopefully by the time we do break ground, the supply chain challenges we’ve seen around the world are more resolved, because we know that’s impacting a number of construction projects (already) underway.”

Rowe said the completion of the central office would allow the release of the eight separate office spaces being used by Teck back to other commercial operators, such as the re-purposed school site.

In the interim, Rowe said the company would be engaging with the district in order to secure temporary use permits for additional offices in the district, as the current office space was not adequate. No location has been decided on, and discussions continue between Teck and the district.

“Since the pandemic started, we have hired a significant number of staff,” he said.

During questioning, councillor Jason Christensen asked whether the company was really committed to building a central office, and not settle for squeezing in more temporary offices, saying that a central office had been in discussion for years and went away whenever coal went down in value.

“Is this just a band-aid presentation to appease us until we get to the next stage of fluctuation in pricing?,” he asked.

According to Teck’s recent news releases, coal is averaging US$371 per tonne for the three months ending November 30 2021.

Rowe responded by saying that Teck had long-term plans to be in Sparwood, and given their current offices were short by about 250 workstations and the temporary offices planned were only about a hundred new spaces, they would still need the central location.

“We don’t want to have (the temporary work-spaces) for more than three years,” he said.

Mayor David Wilks suggested that any temporary use permit granted to the company come with the condition that they be tied to the construction of the central office, and expire following its completion.

Teck will be submitting applications for temporary use permits to allow for temporary offices in the near future.

READ MORE: Teck cuts coal sales forecast due to rail disruptions



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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