For more than 20 years, Regional Land Representative Don Gresch has travelled up and down the Trans-Canada Highway visiting landowners and other key stakeholders along an 1,100-kilometre stretch of pipeline in northern Ontario.
Whether acquiring land rights for expansion projects, permitting for pipeline maintenance activities or responding to pipeline system emergencies, managing relationships has been the key to success for Don.
“I’ve been looking after this area for so long and I have a lot of really good relationships with landowners and other stakeholders,” says Don. “I can knock on quite a few doors and they’ll welcome me with open arms.”
While Don can’t pay the landowners a friendly visit in person these days, social distancing guidelines haven’t stopped him from finding opportunities to help landowners virtually.
“Hearing the concerns first-hand from some of our landowners and how this virus is impacting their lives makes you want to help out where you can,” Don says.
Collaboration between field and office gets the work done
Recently, Don was chatting with semi-retired landowners who winter in Chilliwack, BC. With the outbreak of COVID-19, they decided to travel back to Ontario early. However, as TC Energy was completing a winter investigative dig on the Mainline pipeline near their property and using their private road to access the site, they were concerned that access to their home would be blocked by the heavy winter snow that still blanketed northern Ontario.
“I could tell the landowners were stressed about driving across the country in the midst of the pandemic, with worries about disinfecting their hotel rooms along the way and then figuring out how to settle back into their Ontario home safely,” says Don.
To ease their worries, Don got in touch with Pete Allair, Construction Services East Foreman, who arranged to bring in a front end loader to clear the snow from the entrance to their house and even personally shovelled the walkway and driveway himself.
“It was very satisfying to hear that the landowners were happy,” says Pete. “At the end of the day, it was the right thing for us to do. While Don is the landowner’s main point-of-contact, we’re all guests on the property and we need to collaborate and work together to ensure we are treating the landowners with the respect they deserve.”
TC Energy, Land representative
Going above and beyond
Don put this principle into practice again earlier this month when talking to a landowner who works as a paramedic.
The landowner mentioned that their local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were using their personal protective equipment supplies much quicker than normal and were worried they would run out of masks and other protective gear.
Don reached out to the area manager to ask if there was any way he could support the landowner’s employer. In the end, the team was able to make a donation to support the purchase of 800 KN95 face masks for Superior North Emergency Medical Services, which provides EMS services within the Thunder Bay District area.
“If an opportunity presents itself, I’m going to run with it,” says Don. “That’s our culture – when we can help, we help.”
While Don may be stuck behind his desk at home, he continues to do his best to positively influence the lives of others on a daily basis.
Maintaining positive relationships across the continent
Don’s many colleagues across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico approach their work with the same positive attitude.
See below for a few past examples from across the continent of how our land representatives live out our Land Guiding Principles, as they build and maintain positive relationships with landowners.
Watch what one Maine landowner had to say about his interactions with our land team.
Hear what an Alberta landowner said about her experience working with us.