FortisBC addresses residents’ concerns about proposed Kootenay Operations Centre

Local residents had a chance Wednesday night to grill FortisBC management about the proposed Kootenay Operations Centre

Close to 50 people attended the FortisBC open house at Ootischenia Hall on Wednesday for the proposed new Kootenay Operations Centre.

Close to 50 people attended the FortisBC open house at Ootischenia Hall on Wednesday for the proposed new Kootenay Operations Centre.

Local residents had a chance Wednesday night to grill FortisBC management about the proposed Kootenay Operations Centre Fortis hopes to build in Ootischenia.

The public open house was held at the Ootischenia Hall and featured several display boards with information and designs for the building.

“The turnout’s been great,” said Blair Weston, community and aboriginal relations manager for FortisBC. “A lot of the local residents (from Ootischenia) have been here as well as some from the city.”

Weston said the main concerns residents have brought up have been worries about the viewscape blocking sight lines and about traffic.

“We have addressed those issues in the story boards,” he said. “I think we did a pretty good job of anticipating what the questions would be.”

The proposed building is a single story with a warehouse with fleet bays.

“We wanted to show everyone our proposal and get feedback,” said Weston. “The next step is we take the comments back and look over them. Within a few months we’ll build the business case and submit it to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) and ask for permission to build the centre.”

The new centre will cost approximately $16 million and bring in approximately 160 to 180 jobs.

“There are people working in Castlegar already that will be relocated to this building,” said Weston. “So it’s not like all new jobs. But there will be around 160 jobs that will be here at the end of the day.”

Weston said that no buildings would be shut down in Trail as a result of the new centre.

“In fact, we’re moving some of our central warehousing out of the Okanagan to Trail,” he said. “So this is part of a larger re-organization to make our operation more efficient. There’ll be some jobs moved out of Trail to Castlegar, but the buildings will all remain the same.”

Putting the operation centre in Castlegar makes sense for many reasons, says Weston.

“Citing our operation centre in the geographic centre of the West Kootenay is the most efficient way to look after customers,” he said.

The City of Castlegar was well represented at the open house with several city councillors present as well as CAO John Malcolm.

“I think it was a good turnout,” said councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff. “Varying opinions of course. But for the area, I think it’s a win-win situation. It’s going to bring 160-180 jobs to the area with huge economic spin-offs for Castlegar and area, which is always good.”

Heaton-Sherstobitoff said it’s great that residents have a chance to have input into the operation.

“From what I can tell, Fortis is going to go back and make some tweaks to their plans and submit it to the BCUC,” she said. “I’m hoping that people who couldn’t come out here can go to Fortis and raise their concerns. There’s always the opportunity through BCUC to submit your opposition, or if you’re in favour.”

The site for the proposed operations centre is on Ootischenia Road near the hall and behind the West Kootenay Regional Airport.