By Laura Keil
Trans Mountain says the worker accommodation camp in Valemount is slated for closure at the end of May, but that it’s subject to change.
“As there will be a significant reduction in the workforce in the next few months, we will begin the process of closing the camp community,” a Trans Mountain spokesperson said.
The camp communities in Valemount and Blue River are both currently near capacity, housing 600 and 550 workers respectively. Hundreds more workers are living in the community or in RVs. The Village of Valemount said they would like to see the camp stay open to ease pressure on the local rental housing market.
At their March 28th Council meeting, Counc. Pete Pearson and Hollie Blanchette both voiced their concern about the camp closing while area rentals are still in such short supply.
“I would love to see the camp stay and start moving workers out of local accommodation, free up some housing so we can actually attract employees in our community,” said Counc. Pete Pearson. “Right now, we can’t hire anybody, because they’d be sleeping in their car … I would love to see it stay, start to migrate some of those workers into the camp as the progress changes to free up housing.”
Counc. Hollie Blanchette echoed Counc. Pearson’s concerns.
“If we can’t hire nurses and teachers and doctors, that doesn’t work well for the community,” she said.
In an email April 11th, Mayor Owen Torgerson said it’s Council’s desire that the camp remain open until the end of mechanical completion (slated for the end of 2023) or at least until Spread 3 is fully completed.
He said the village, local accommodations, other commercial businesses, schools, residents, etc. would all benefit from a “slow and steady project wind-down” to ready the community for what will be a back-to-normal population base. He says the Village anticipates increased visitors this summer, for instance, the Canadian Enduro League event July 15 and 16 will bring 200-250 participants and their support teams to the area.
Trans Mountain says Valemount-area workers can use the Blue River camp community if needed.
The spokesperson said the camp will be decommissioned and the assets removed when weather conditions are favourable, likely in the summer.