BC natural gas pipeline project helps build a better future

This joint-venture project has been a long time coming and has been carefully considered by a wide range of stakeholders.

Brian Cochrane

Vancouver Sun, January 17, 2019

British Columbians have an unprecedented opportunity to help build B.C.’s future and strengthen our economy through the construction of TransCanada’s (now TC Energy) Coastal GasLink pipeline project and the associated $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas project it will serve in Kitimat.

This investment focuses on the three core principles of the community building standard around the world: A commitment to safety and quality, investing in trades and apprenticeships and leaving a positive community legacy. It is a key opportunity to develop a skilled workforce to support the development of this project as well as for infrastructure projects in our province for decades to come.

Important safety and environmental work has already been completed in the form of extensive field studies, regulatory approvals and engagement programs with local communities and others impacted by the project.

Among the key highlights are the awarding of $620 million to Indigenous business organizations along the route and the signing of 20 project and community agreements with Indigenous bands affected by the project. All the necessary field work to begin construction has now been completed, with more than one-third of that work conducted specifically by Indigenous people in the region already.

Thousands of well-paying jobs will be created when construction gets underway. It will be a boon to the sector and local economies, including regional Indigenous communities in the near future as well for many years ahead. The Coastal Gaslink pipeline project alone will employ up to 2,500 people during construction and generate approximately $20 million a year in property tax benefits for B.C. communities on an ongoing basis, creating additional funds to address community plans and infrastructure needs both locally and provincially.

Already, labour groups have been an important and substantial part of developing this project as they were able to share their expertise and help shape policies around local and Indigenous worker hiring, along with apprenticeships and skills training to ensure that B.C. workers are first in line for jobs. Labour groups, particularly, pushed for workforce provisions that will help to maximize the value of this major investment for B.C. communities and build a workforce for the future as other infrastructure projects will also need these skilled workers in the province.

This joint-venture project has been a long time coming and has been carefully considered by a wide range of stakeholders. So when the partners lead by LNG Canada and TC Energy recently announced their final investment decision, it marked a monumental day for our province as well as the country, and we need to keep that momentum going for the future.

We, the International Union of Operating Engineers, are proud to represent 48,000 highly skilled unionized workers who will help build this infrastructure safely and responsibly. We are committed, prepared and eager to get to work on this project.

TransCanada and its partners have proven that investment can be done in a sustainable and proper manner that puts safety first and encourages a diverse and inclusive workforce while also developing a workforce for the future through training and apprenticeship development.

A new Community Building Standard means ensuring infrastructure projects in Canada are built the right way, starting with the TC Energy Coastal Gaslink Pipeline in B.C. Let’s not waste this opportunity to build long-term prosperity that will benefit B.C. workers, and in turn their families and communities, for decades to come.

Brian Cochrane is business manager of Local 115 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.