Vanderhoof Airport has three airstrips, one of which is paved, and no permanent buildings. It provides charter, medivac and private air service to the region. (District of Vanderhoof)

Vanderhoof Airport has three airstrips, one of which is paved, and no permanent buildings. It provides charter, medivac and private air service to the region. (District of Vanderhoof)

Gas pipeline work camp blocked from temporary northwest B.C. site

Farmland used for three years would improve land, Vanderhoof Airport

A northwest B.C. MLA is pushing for the NDP government’s strict new farmland regulations to allow a temporary workforce facility that would house 900 people building a pipeline for the LNG Canada project.

The private land site next to Vanderhoof Airport has been rejected by the Agricultural Land Commission, a decision Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad is attempting to have reversed. It’s proposed for temporary use as one of a series of camps and equipment sites to construct the Coastal GasLink pipeline from the Dawson Creek area to LNG Canada’s liquefied natural gas export terminal at Kitimat.

The $40 billion terminal and pipeline is described by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the largest private sector investment in Canadian history. Construction is underway for most segments of the pipeline route, except for the section from northeast of Prince George to north of Vanderhoof, where one of a series of job fairs is scheduled for Nov. 13.

Rustad says the District of Vanderhoof wants the airport site because the project would include an office building that would be turned over to the airport to provide it with a permanent terminal building. And he says the camp construction would improve the agricultural productivity of the site.

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“The private landowner is really excited, because the company is actually going to leave it in better shape for farming than what it currently is,” Rustad told Black Press in an interview. “It’s going to be out of production for three years, and the whole thing will be rehabilitated and a better state than they have it right now.”

Rustad raised the issue with Agriculture Minister Lana Popham this week, in one of a series of questions for the minister about the effects of getting rid of the rural farmland zone that relaxed secondary uses across most of the province.

Popham told the legislature there is an alternative site that would work for the pipeline camp, but Rustad says local knowledge of the other site does not support that conclusion.

“It’s right along Highway 16 across from the industrial area,” Rustad said. “There’s a storage area now where all the trailers are kept, but there would have to be significant upgrades to the highway in order for it to go there. There would have to be left-hand turning lanes and all kinds of stuff put in for that to go in there.”

Right-of-way clearing for the pipeline is continuing from Dawson Creek to Chetwynd, with the Sukunka workforce housing facility west of Chetwynd and the Lejac workforce camp near Burns Lake ready for occupancy.

Hundreds of Coastal Gaslink workers are living at Sitka Lodge, Hunter Creek and Main 9A workforce accommodation on the section from south of Hazelton to Kitimat, doing clearing, grading, erosion control and blasting to prepare the pipeline route.

Job fairs are being held along the route, a region where the mainstay forest industry is in significant decline.

Coastal GasLink is being built by TC Energy, formerly TransCanada, which operates a large network of oil and gas pipelines in B.C., Alberta, the U.S. and Mexico.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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