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Fortis hears from 60 - 70 local residents re: $16-mill Ootischenia project
Between 60 and 70 people attended a public open house last night (Wednesday) in Ootischenia last night, as Fortis BC unveiled its plans for a proposed $16-million operations centre at 120 Ootischenia Road, according to Fortis spokesman Blair Weston.
“Largely, people support the project,” he said. “There are concerns about traffic flow in the area – that seemed to be the predominant negative concern. We do have a traffic plan that we were able to present.”
Moreover, he said, representatives from the meeting will bring resident concerns back to the Fortis facilities group, to see what mitigating options are available before the project is ushered through the BC Utilities Commission process.
The operations centre would house roughly 160 people, but Weston was careful to emphasize that Fortis is not creating any new jobs, but rather consolidating and centralizing existing employees and office space in a single location.
Weston was also clear there will job shuffling in Trail, with some of the positions moving to Castlegar – in fact, he said part of this project involves centralizing and expanding Fortis warehousing in Trail and bringing jobs from the Okanagan to the Warfield facility.
“We start construction Tuesday to create 8,000 square feet of space in Trail/Warfield,” he said.
Weston also said concerns about visual pollution and compromised sightlines will be addressed through careful landscaping and a single-story structure for the 45,000-square-foot centre, incorporating offices, fleet bays, stores warehouse and emergency response centre.
City councillors Kevin Chernoff, Dan Rye and Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff were in attendance, along with RDCK director Gord Zaitsoff and former Castlegar mayor Mike O’Connor.
Chernoff said the meeting drew residents of both Castlegar and Ootischenia.
“I think Fortis will go back and have a look at options in terms of easing traffic and safety issues,” he said. “I’m in favour of the project. I think it’s good for our economy and will, in the long term, bring families to our community. It’ll increase our commercial tax base as well as the amount of retail spending in the community.”
Weston said Fortis would “love” to start construction in 2013, but they’ll have to go through the regulatory process and reach a land agreement with the city before offering a definitive timeline for construction.
Anyone wanting to offer feedback – positive or negative – can contact the BC Utilities Commission, whose final approval is required for the project to move forward.