FortisBC assessing Sicamous for extension of gas line

Competitive edge: Natural gas could benefit local economy by helping attract new industry.

Unless you’re a propane dealer, the prospect of making natural gas accessible to Sicamous residents and businesses holds little downside.

FortisBC has begun looking at what it can do to bring its infrastructure into the District of Sicamous.

FortisBC spokesperson Neal Pobran says the company is in the early stages of determining whether the delivery of natural gas to the district is feasible.

“What we’re looking at right now is some analysis, and that includes determining the cost of the project, what a possible route may look like and the engineering requirements for delivering natural gas,” says Pobran.

Many in Sicamous, businesses and residents, currently rely on propane for heating. Natural gas is considered one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels, and is typically less expensive for heating purposes than propane.

Mayor Darrell Trouton and district interim administrator Doug Ruttan met with the FortisBC reps when they were last in town. Ruttan says one of the first, obvious benefits of bringing natural gas to Sicamous would be the savings to residents. But Ruttan and the mayor also see the availability of natural gas as giving the community a needed edge in attracting new business. Coun. Greg Kyllo agrees. The Twin Anchors co-owner says the addition of gas would be beneficial to the company’s new industrial park.

“We heat our main plant with wood-fired boilers, so I don’t know that I would actually do a conversion,” says Kyllo. “It certainly would be valuable for the industrial park. We did look at putting a powder coating line in about five years ago, but just the cost of dealing with the propane made it cost-prohibitive.

“There certainly are a lot of industries that do require gas. I think it would be definitely a benefit to the community.”

However, Trouton, Ruttan and Kyllo also agree that extending natural gas to the Malakwa industrial corridor along the Trans-Canada Highway would have the greatest economic impact for the region.

“They’ve got good infrastructure there with service roads on both sides of the highway, and I think the reason why there’s been limited development of industrial companies and that sort of thing in that area is likely because of the lack of gas,” says Kyllo. “I think having gas would certainly be a huge benefit for that corridor, which obviously would help to bring industry to this region.”

Trouton notes the district has looked at bringing gas to the community in the past but found it wasn’t feasible. He looks forward to seeing FortisBC’s conclusion this time around, noting it would make Sicamous more attractive to investment.

“If you have natural gas, it’s usually a better way to heat buildings, a better way to fuel your business. It’s difficult to compete with other areas that have cheaper sources of fuel,” says Trouton.

 

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