FortisBC has received regulatory approval from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to build a new Kootenay Operations Centre in Castlegar. The facility will have 23,000 sq. ft. of office space, 7000 sq. ft. of warehouse space and be located at 120 Ootischenia Road. It will house operations for the electricity branch of FortisBC.
The new facility will centralize many key operations into one facility and will replace existing facilities that the company says are reaching the end of their useful life. One of those facilities is the South Slocan Operations Centre which is over a hundred years old.
The South Slocan Generation Plant will remain in operation, but the operations centre will be moved to the new facility. The Castlegar District Office will also close and the employees will be transferred to the new location. Operations in Trail and Warfield will remain open, but some employees will be relocated.
FortisBC issued a request for expressions of interest from general contractors for the $22.4 million facility in February in anticipation of BCUC approval. The company is currently evaluating those submissions and will pre-qualify contractors who will then be invited to respond to a request for proposals that will close in mid-April. Construction is expected to begin in May.
The new operation centre will be home to about 100 employees. “This is simply a move, there are no changes to staffing that we foresee as a result of this,” said Nicole Bogdanovic, Corporate Communications Advisor for FortisBC.
The City of Castlegar was quick to issue a press release expressing excitement over the approval. “Fortis’ decision to relocate the regional service centre here in Castlegar recognizes that Castlegar is the centrally located community in the West Kootenay for investment,” said Mayor Chernoff in the statement.
The process has been a long one, beginning in 2012. But Bogdanovic believes it shows that care was taken before the plans were finalized and approved. “It gives certainty that there is rigor in the process,” she said. “These decisions are not made lightly. We have been connected to the community for over a hundred years, so we know these decisions have long term impacts and we make them very, very carefully.”