Fortis' South Slocan Operations Centre building

Fortis' South Slocan Operations Centre building

Fortis to move 42 employees from South Slocan to Castlegar

Fortis says it is not sure what it will do with a significant heritage building that it is vacating in South Slocan.

FortisBC will vacate two buildings, including a significant heritage building, at its South Slocan location and move 42 employee positions to Castlegar in 2017.

The two South Slocan buildings, the general administration office and warehouse, are almost a century old and are at the end of their lives, says Nicole Bogdanovic of FortisBC.

The new $20.7 million Kootenay operations centre, to be located on Ootischenia Rd., south of the West Kootenay Regional Airport, will have 23,000 square feet (2,100 square meters) of office space and 7,000 square feet (650 square meters) of warehouse space.

FortisBC has applied to the BC Utilities Commission for permission to construct the building, and when that decision is made, construction of the new site is expected to begin in the spring of 2016. A procedural conference is slated for Oct. 2 in Vancouver.

As for the employees who will be moving, “if the application is approved, then we will sit down and do a resourcing plan,” said Bogdanovic.

The general administration building, formerly the West Kootenay Power staff house, is an impressive heritage building that dates back to the 1920s.

Bogdanovic said FortisBC has not decided if it will preserve the building.

The two unions involved, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE), contacted by the Star,  said they were aware of the plans but had no comment.

The buildings to be vacated are currently the operations centre for FortisBC’s four Kootenay River dams that provide power to much of the West Kootenay.

If the new facility goes ahead, FortisBC personnel currently working in Warfield would also relocate to the new space.

The company says the new operations centre would help it centralize its personnel, providing greater efficiencies and saving money.

The proposed centre would also address age, condition and potential code compliance issues of the existing generation facilities in South Slocan, said company spokesman Michael Allison.

“The South Slocan generation site contains a group [of line workers] that responds to emergencies,” he said. “It’s located a bit north of our central area, so by moving more central we are able to be in touch with each other in person a lot faster and able to respond to emergencies better.”

— With files from Sheri Regnier, Trail Times