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This article was published 11/8/2018 (1416 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
About 2,000 workers descending on southern Manitoba to rebuild the Enbridge oil pipeline will also pump money into rural economies, town and business officials say.
The workers, who started arriving this month, are expected to give a major boost to service and retail sectors, spending on everything from hotels to haircuts, from food and fuel to entertainment.
What they are not expected to do is cause trouble.
"(Enbridge’s) instructions to their employees are so tight. If they create any hassles to the community, or start a ruckus, then they are dismissed and lose their jobs," Winkler Mayor Martin Harder said.
Enbridge briefed communities and local governments on the project in advance of the construction.
The Line 3 replacement program is the largest project in Enbridge’s history, replacing the existing pipeline over a distance of 1,660 kilometres in Canada and the United States. The line slated for replacement runs from Hardisty, Alta., to border town Gretna in Manitoba, and then to Superior, Wis., in the U.S.
The Canadian portion of the pipeline will cost $5.3 billion to replace. About 40 per cent of the Canadian line has been replaced so far, mostly in Alberta. Enbridge hopes to complete the Canadian portion by year’s end, or early in 2019.
The work is anticipated to last four to six months, add almost $400 million to Manitoba’s gross domestic product, and $110 million in tax revenue for the province.
Field offices for administrative staff, meetings and for parking vehicles and heavy equipment have been set up in Brandon and Morden-Winkler. Three crews of 600 to 800 employees each will operate in Manitoba.
"The big thing that will be impacted is hotels. Accommodations will probably be a little tight for the next couple months," Harder said.
Not all workers will use hotels. Some will bring their families and stay in RVs and campers in local campgrounds. The workers are paid a per diem and whatever they don’t spend they get to keep.
There should be some local employment opportunities. Harder expects a number of local people, such as welders, may be hired, putting a strain on manufacturing companies in the area. "It could be an opportunity to make a quick buck for workers," he said.
Harder expects a local security company will get a contract to provide 24-7 monitoring of the construction site, as has been the case in the past.
In Altona, the chamber of commerce has encouraged local service and retail outlets to think outside the box. That includes extending business hours perhaps once a week because the workers will be away laying down pipe during regular business hours.
"Something as simple as getting haircuts. Most salons are only open during regular business hours. So, maybe think of extending business hours for one day a week," said Stephanie Harris, manager of the Altona and District Chamber of Commerce.
The pipeline enters Manitoba at the hamlet of Cromer and runs diagonally across the province, passing near towns Souris, Glenboro, St. Leon, Manitou and Morden and exiting into the U.S. at Gretna. In the Pembina Valley, it cuts through the Minnewasta Golf Course in Morden. Pipeline repair there is already completed and the fairways have been repaired.
In the southwest, the pipeline passes three or four kilometres north of the town of Souris. Many workers will choose to stay in Brandon, about 50 kilometres away.
"The ones that want to stay closer to the action can stay here," Souris-Glenwood Mayor Daryl Jackson said.
Souris has a new 29-room hotel as well as a campground that Jackson said may see some out-of-season use this year.
While it helps the economy, Enbridge trucks can also beat up municipal roads with increased traffic. But Jackson said Enbridge is "pretty responsible overall."
"They’re willing to pay for dust control on farmyards that normally wouldn’t worry about dust control. When there’s an increase in traffic, it becomes an issue," Jackson said.
The Brandon Chamber of Commerce did not return messages.
Harder said Enbridge is also supporting the communities in other ways. In Winkler, it donated $50,000 to the city’s new Discovery Nature Sanctuary, a 32-acre animal and bird refuge featuring natural prairie grasses, woodlands and wetland. It also contributed to the city’s new Butterfly Garden.
Harder said workers do not usually cause problems under Enbridge’s strict guidelines.
"The company tries its best to ensure people working for them are reputable," he said.
Enbridge said the new line will be safer and decrease the frequency of maintenance.