Growing winery demonstrates commitment to safety
Meet Hugo Bonjean, the proud owner of Spirit Hills Winery near Turner Valley, Alberta. When Hugo and his family first started their winery six years ago, it was just a small dream of Hugo and his family to live off the land, connect with nature and carry on the generations-long family tradition of wine making that began in France.
Of course, with no grapes to be found in Alberta, Hugo had to get creative and combine that family knowledge with some prairie ingenuity. The result is a product that has won him awards and resulted in growing demand for his products reaching all the way to Japan.
“We use our local honey, our local berries, and our local flowers to create Alberta wines with true Alberta flavours and character,” explains Bonjean.
As demand for their product has grown, recently reaching as far as Japan, Spirit Hills has had to grow with it. Last year they added on to their winery, and this year they hope to grow even more.
Complicating his plans somewhat is the fact that buried between his home and his winery is a natural gas transmission pipeline owned by TransCanada. For the expansion he is imagining, he needs to dig on his property, potentially coming close to the pipeline right-of-way.
As one of more than 95,000 landowners we work with across North America, Bonjean was aware of the possible dangers of digging near pipelines, and so he called TransCanada and Alberta One Call, his local underground utility organization. Within days, crews were out identifying and marking the underground facilities running through his property.
This year, Hugo wants to continue growing, and he’s already put the call in to start the process all over again.
Considering it’s a free service, Bonjean calls it a “no-brainer”.
“That’s my home,” he says, gesturing to the ranch house to his right, “and that’s my winery, and the pipeline runs right in between.”
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Organizations like the Common Ground Alliance wish more people shared Hugo’s attitude toward safety. Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged due to failure to call or click before digging in North America, resulting in billions of dollars in costs and damages.
Shockingly, all of these are preventable. Many people don’t even realize what kind of utilities are running underneath the ground they walk on every day.
Safe Digging Month aims to change that by spreading awareness of the free resources available to people to help them avoid potential injury, damages, or interruptions to vital services that keep their families safe and their businesses running.
For more information on safe digging resources, visit CommonGroundAlliance.com/map to find contact information within the U.S. and Canada.
For more information on Spirit Hills Winery or to find where to purchase their products, visit SpiritHillsWinery.com.Safe digging resources: