The following story appeared Aug. 10 in Daily Commercial News.

The Energy East oil pipeline is far from a sure thing as National Energy Board (NEB) hearings get underway this week, but what is certain is that if and when the project gets a green light, hundreds of Ontario’s operating engineers will be ready to get right to work.

Anticipating the need for trained pipeline operators, the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO) campus in Morrisburg, Ont. launched a three-week training program for operators of dozers, sidebooms and excavators in June 2015. OETIO executive director Harold McBride reported recently that the program has already graduated 174 newly skilled operating engineers since the program debuted, with hopes to match that output in the next 15 months.

McBride acknowledged that Energy East faces opposition that could derail the project but he said the training centre really has no option but to train workers to be ready to go come 2018, when the NEB is scheduled to present its recommendations.

“Here is the way we look at it,” said McBride. “Everyone is sitting on the fence, but if we didn’t prepare ahead, we wouldn’t be able to supply the demand. So if we wait until it is totally confirmed, we won’t have time to train the people needed and it would allow foreign workers to come in.”

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