Jul 30, 2018 Return to Headlines

City of Coquitlam to Dispute FortisBC Project

by Michelle Frilund |

COQUITLAM, BC, July 30, 2018 – A dispute is heating up between the City of Coquitlam and FortisBC over the Lower Mainland Intermediate Pressure System Upgrade (LMIPSU) – and they are headed to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) for resolution.

FortisBC’s LMIPSU, currently under construction in Vancouver, will include construction of a new 30” gas pipeline (replacing an existing 60-year-old 20” pipeline) along Como Lake Avenue in Coquitlam from Mariner Way all the way to the Burnaby Border.

“The City of Coquitlam supports this project and fully recognizes the need for this major infrastructure improvement for the benefit of the community and the region,” said Mayor Richard Stewart. “But at the same time, we must safeguard the interests of our businesses, residents and roadways. FortisBC’s project cannot happen at the expense of Coquitlam taxpayers.” 

At issue within the project are two key points: 

  • Pavement Restoration – Coquitlam requires FortisBC to repave all of Como Lake from curb to curb due to the impact construction will have on the roadway, (which includes a major trench through the centre lanes, many lateral cuts, changes to pavement markings for traffic management, and excessive wear and tear from heavy construction equipment). Como Lake Avenue should be returned to an acceptable standard at the end of the project.
  • Decommissioning the old 20” Pipeline – FortisBC’s current plan is to fill the old line with concrete and leave it in place. However, the decommissioned pipeline and all the problems associated with it belong to FortisBC. It is therefore FortisBC’s responsibility to ensure the pipeline is not abandoned in a busy utility corridor, where it will result in ongoing financial and logistical impacts on the City’s management of its own critical, local utilities until it is removed

This is most pressing along Como Lake Avenue between North Road and Clarke Road where the City needs to immediately install a new water and sewer line where a 380m section of the old pipeline lies. Removing the approximately 5.5 kilometres of old pipeline will come at a substantial cost that is more appropriately shared among FortisBC’s ratepayers than Coquitlam taxpayers. 

“All we’re requiring of FortisBC is that when they are no longer using our right-of-way for an active pipeline, they remove it. Every camper knows when you are finished, you take your garbage out with you,” said Peter Steblin, City Manager. “The days of major pipelines and utilities thinking they can use municipal rights-of-way as free land forever are over. If this cannot be achieved, then it’s time to re-examine the Provincial regulations governing utility companies’ use of municipal roads, and our operating agreement with FortisBC.”

The agreement in question is from the 1950s – a time when there was little to no congestion in the urban underground. It does not address what happens to the decommissioned pipeline.

The dispute will be making its way to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) this summer where FortisBC is seeking approval to move the project ahead without a permit from the City of Coquitlam. BCUC is anticipated to receive written submissions from the public.

Construction of the line is expected to move to Coquitlam in 2019.

Media contact:
Michelle Frilund
Senior Communications & Engagement Specialist