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Pre-construction starts on Coquihalla to Popkum section of Trans Mountain project

Construction will happen later this year, with a 350-person camp proposed
Sticks in the ground with yellow warning labels map the route of the Trans Mountain pipeline project, outside of Laidlaw. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

As construction begins on the federally-owned Trans Mountain pipeline project in B.C.’s interior, pre-construction activity is ongoing in the section between the Coquihalla Summit and Popkum.

Drivers and residents may have noticed flags, grass being cut and other changes along the twinned pipeline’s right-of-way, which stretches from the Coquihalla Summit roughly the same route as Highway 5, through the District of Hope, then down along the east side of Highway 1 to Popkum. The section includes around 85 kilometres of pipeline.

Actual construction in this section is expected to start later in the year, Kate Stebbings with the project wrote in an email to the Fraser Valley Regional District.

Shxw’owhamel First Nation is also working with Trans Mountain to build a camp community, as well as a construction yard, on the nation’s land. According to Trans Mountain documents, the camp will be occupied by the company temporarily but will be owned by Shxw’owhamel. It will house 350 workers during peak construction, with construction spanning two years from around September 2020 to September 2022.

This camp would be ‘self-sustaining’ meaning all the dining, medical, recreational and other needs would be provided on-site. Workers would have transportation to and from the site, and would have to sign a code of conduct governing their expectations ‘on the job site, in camp communities and in host communities,’ the documents read.

Pre-construction activity includes preparing the right of way for the pipeline – this includes surveying, clearing, flagging and installing temporary workspace for future construction. During this phase, some temporary interruptions to traffic flow could occur on weekdays when work is ongoing.

The construction phase will include laying the actual pipeline, as well as water crossings, trenchless installation in some areas and relocating some Telus and BC Hydro utilities. Some blasting work will happen as well, with blasting close to roads happening mainly at night although some road closures may be needed.

A pump station is set to be built in Hope, and a stockpile site and construction yard area are already under construction in Laidlaw.

Trans Mountain say they are following the public health advice and requirements for workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian told Black Press he is satisfied with the COVID-19 measures the company has in place.

Read more: Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

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The proposed site of a 350-person camp Trans Mountain and the Shxw’ow’hamel First Nation are working together on. Trans Mountain map
Portions of the soon-to-be-constructed Trans Mountain pipeline stored at a facility on Laidlaw Road. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)