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“We’re trying to do the best we can”: Coastal GasLink trying to ensure access for locals to preferred fishing area amidst pipeline construction

The CGL pipeline route goes under the river at the Lower Dyke, a favourite fishing area for locals.

Coastal GasLink (CGL) has been working to try to alleviate issues that have arisen due to pipeline construction occurring at a favoured fishing location for locals.

The area, locally known as ‘the Lower Dyke,’ as it’s at the bottom of the Dyke Road, is a favourite for its easy access to the Kitimat River and the variety of fishing spots along it.

CGL first blocked off the Lower Dyke to build an updated road, which is now a key access point to the route the CGL pipeline will take leading to LNG Canada’s (LNGC) complex. But shortly after, measures were put in place that denied fishermen access to the river during peak fishing hours.

The public is no longer allowed to go in from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. due to ongoing construction throughout the day. Workers have also logged off the smaller trails that lead straight to the riverbank, meaning people wishing to go down there have to park and walk the last little bit, which can be difficult for those with mobility issues.

Kiel Giddens, Public Affairs Manager with the CGL pipeline said that the restrictions were put in place to ensure the safety of workers and locals, as it is an active construction site.

“We’re improving the existing pathway down to the waterfront so locals can safely get down there,” Giddens said. “And I really want to emphasize the ‘safely’ part.”

READ MORE: CGL completes first in-field pipeline welds for Kitimat section of project

Giddens said CGL is in the process of creating a separate road for the locals to use, with access for vehicles straight down to the river so they don’t have to go through construction. There won’t be any available parking within the CGL project area, itself, though, and access for coming down to the river will remain outside the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the time being.

“We’re trying to do the best we can to make sure there’s still access, so people can still enjoy the outdoors,” Giddens said. “But unfortunately there’s no way we can’t have any impact; this is our pipeline route and this is how we have to get access to the LNG Canada site.”

Mid-August is when the pipeline is going to be installed under the river, but Giddens explained that they are drilling deep under the riverbed, so there will be no direct impact to the banks or the river’s streamflow. Work will be occurring 24/7 for this part of the project, but Giddens said CGL is looking to put safety precautions in place to allow continued access to the river for the public.

“Coastal GasLink will ensure good public access outside of the hours of 6:00-18:00, and by the time we get to the tunnelling operations we will strive to open the access to a greater extent of time for the duration of the work,” Giddens said in an email.

READ MORE: Clearing continues along Coastal GasLink pipeline right of way in Northwest

Giddens said they’re hoping to have pipeline installed by the fall, working quickly but safely to ensure locals get their fishing space back as soon as possible.

“I’ve heard [the Lower Dyke] is called one of the best fishing spots in town, so we’re trying to watch how we deal with it and making sure we’re respecting locals in the area,” Giddens said. “Obviously with a project of this scale, there’s the potential for issues to come up. But we’re trying to find solutions to mitigate those and not impact the important recreational values [of Kitimat].”

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