Community engagement and partnerships
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Indian Band and FortisBC celebrate Tilbury Projects Master Agreement
The Tilbury Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Projects in Delta are helping ensure we have the gas supply our customers need to heat their homes on the coldest days of the year and meet the increasing demand for LNG as a marine fuel.
Taking steps to protect the environment is always a priority for us. For our work on the Tilbury LNG Projects, that includes being mindful of the project’s potential impacts on the Fraser River and looking for ways to lead environmental enhancement. One of the ways we’re doing that is to partner with the First Nations that have been stewards of their Traditional Territories along the Fraser River since time immemorial.
In September 2023, we were able to celebrate the monumental Tilbury Projects Master Agreement with Chief, Council and members of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Indian Band—an agreement that will result in both xʷməθkʷəy̓əm and FortisBC sharing benefits associated with the Tilbury LNG Projects.
The agreement, signed by xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Chief Wayne Sparrow and FortisBC CEO Roger Dall’Antonia in June of 2022, will see both parties working in close collaboration as the projects are developed, including the Tilbury Marine Jetty. A shared goal of the agreement is to develop a world-leading LNG facility that will result in beneficial outcomes for xʷməθkʷəy̓əm and the region, while leading the energy transition together.
Since signing this agreement, our collaboration with xʷməθkʷəy̓əm has already produced great results. We have co-developed a Marine Communications Protocol Agreement which sets a new standard for our partnership along the Fraser River, further strengthening our commitment to the health of the environment and the land on which we operate.
Solidifying our ties with the Delta community
In 2023, FortisBC’s Joanne Hunton-Sehdev was invited to join the board of Reach Child & Youth Development Society (REACH), a Delta organization that we’ve supported for many years. REACH is a non-profit that helps children with diverse abilities and disabilities, and their families, reach their full potential.
We like to take an integrated and inclusive approach to community investment. We explore all aspects of a community and look for ways we can boost collaboration between groups by providing additional support.
Part of our ongoing support for REACH includes funding for its SibShops Program, for siblings of children with a diagnosis. In 2023, we extended that support for three more years and added additional funding for a new program—FortisBC for Families—to support sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ (Tsawwassen First Nation) families.
Before we had the FortisBC funding, this program (FortisBC for Families) wouldn’t have been possible. We just didn’t have the means to do it. Having FortisBC’s community support now gives us the flexibility to be responsive to the sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ community.
Squamish community outreach
The Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline (EGP) Project will expand our existing gas system in Squamish and Coquitlam to supply natural gas to our customer, Woodfibre LNG. That includes installing 47 kilometres of new gas pipeline between Squamish and Coquitlam and an additional three kilometres near Westwood Plateau in Coquitlam.
We conduct community outreach activities and get involved in community events wherever our projects are located. In 2023, our activities in Squamish included the following:
- In March 2023, we held a public information meeting about the EGP Project to provide the Squamish community with an update regarding our Temporary Use Permit applications for a construction laydown area and Temporary Workforce Lodge. This was also an opportunity for attendees to ask questions about the project itself.
- The annual Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival is one of the initiatives we regularly support in Squamish. In August 2023, we were one of the event’s major sponsors, hosting information booths and taking part in fun activities such as the Bed Races. As part of that event, we were also a co-presenting sponsor of the Kid’s Festival, alongside Woodfibre LNG, providing family-friendly games and activities such as a bean bag toss and a bubble machine.
Inland Gas Upgrades community projects benefit Kamloops and Vernon
The Inland Gas Upgrades (IGU) Project has been underway since 2020, upgrading 29 sections of gas line in the inland regions of B.C. Before we break ground on a project, we plan how we’re going to return the site to its original condition and look for ways to make it even better. That often involves collaborating with community partners on creative ideas that will leave a lasting benefit for the community.
- As part of our plan to restore our IGU work site in Kenna Cartwright Park in Kamloops, we partnered with Thompson Rivers University on a two-year study of invasive plant species. The study was intended to help us learn which native plants would be best to plant during worksite restoration in the park, as well as when and where to plant them, to make them more resilient and resistant to invasion by non-native species. The results of the study revealed some tangible results that we were able to apply to our restoration activities in the park, which began in the fall of 2023.
- One of our 2023 IGU gas line upgrades took place in Carlson Park, a beloved off-leash dog park, in Vernon. Our project team collaborated with the City of Vernon to restore the site with a 12-space paved parking lot including features to help make the park more accessible, and safer, for park visitors and their four-legged friends.
Key 2023 project milestones
Construction begins on the Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline (EGP) Project
Following years of community consultation and environmental approvals, construction on the EGP Project began in Squamish in 2023:
- Preliminary construction activities began in Squamish in August 2023. Activities included setting up construction offices, preparing worksites and laydown/staging areas for construction and building access roads.
- In October 2023, excavation work began at the BC Rail property to build an entryway for a tunnel boring machine. This was the first step to building the planned nine-kilometre underground tunnel to connect the BC Rail site with the Woodfibre LNG site. The tunnel will pass under Monmouth Mountain and run 25 metres below the Skwelwil’em Squamish Estuary Wildlife Management Area. We engaged with Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and arrived at an underground trenchless construction solution that would protect the environment and avoid surface impacts to the estuary.
- Pipe delivery to our construction staging property in Squamish also began in October.
- In June 2023, Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh Úxwumixw approved our application to increase the size of the Temporary Workforce Lodge footprint from two hectares to seven. In December 2023, the Environmental Assessment Office also approved this increase. If the Temporary Use Permit for the lodge is approved, this larger Workforce Lodge will allow us to house all our non-local workers in the Squamish area at the lodge site. This directly responds to feedback we received from the District of Squamish and members of the community around reducing pressure on local housing, services and traffic.
- In late January 2024, construction also began in Coquitlam with a variety of activities to prepare our sites for construction. In addition to installing three kilometres of new gas pipeline northwest of Westwood Plateau, we’ll be installing two new electric-powered compressor units at our existing Eagle Mountain Compressor Station, a new electric substation in Eagle Mountain Park and approximately 950 metres of new power lines to connect back to our existing compressor station to power the new compressor units.
This project has been 10 years in the making. You can imagine how it feels to put that first shovel in the ground. The best part about starting construction is knowing how high a value we placed on community engagement leading up to this moment. I’m grateful for the relationships built and input received from Indigenous communities, local governments, residents, businesses and many others. We’ll continue listening to and engaging these groups across the Squamish and Coquitlam communities throughout construction.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure Gas Project receives BCUC approval
We're exploring ways to modernize our gas system and improve its reliability, including upgrading our gas meters to new advanced meters.
On May 15, 2023, our Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Gas Project was approved by our regulator, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). The new advanced meters will allow us to better monitor and manage our system using a wireless network. For example, we’ll be able to remotely detect and respond to gas leaks, including in the event of an emergency such as an earthquake.
The project is currently in the planning stages. We look to start meter installation later in 2024.
We’re constantly looking for ways that technology can improve our customer experience. The approval of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Gas Project allows us to make transformational upgrades that will provide customers with long overdue tools to better support their daily energy decisions.
Inland Gas Upgrades Project completes fourth year of construction
In 2023, work on the Inland Gas Upgrades (IGU) project took place in nine communities across five regions. We’re upgrading parts of our existing gas line, adding new line to connect to our system and installing and upgrading pressure regulating stations.
We support local and Indigenous-affiliated businesses on our projects. In 2023, our IGU Project community investment included the following:
- From January-September 2023, $14 million was spent with 132 B.C.-based vendors.
- This includes $5 million spent with 79 local vendors (59.8 per cent of total B.C.-based vendors).
- 28 vendors were Indigenous-affiliated, representing 18 First Nations, with a total spend of $4.6 million with Indigenous-affiliated businesses.
We anticipate completing construction on the IGU Project in 2024.
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