Economy
Environment

Ottawa tries ‘new approach’ to hire locals for NWT remediation


The federal government is trying to find more local NWT contractors to supply remediation services in the territory under its Contaminated Sites Action Plan.

Ottawa is hoping to hire more contractors local to the territory, with preference given to Indigenous suppliers. A call for contractors based near remediation projects has been open since April.

In a presentation prepared for the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum in late November, federal representatives said increasing the number of local contractors would “achieve socio-economic objectives [and] save on travel costs associated with completing the work, in addition to supporting the local economy.”

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Matt Belliveau, executive director of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Construction Association, said: “The federal government is trying a new approach, splitting the territories up into different administrative zones and giving preference to suppliers with a base of operations within those zones.”

Belliveau delivered part of the presentation at the geoscience forum, alongside a Government of Canada procurement specialist.

As of December 5, only six companies had formally listed their interest in the tender, which will remain open for the next five years.

Three of those companies – North-Wright Airways, Advanced Medical Solutions, and Sub-Arctic Geomatics – are based in the NWT. The rest are based in southern Canada.

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The federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan governs how Ottawa reduces the health and environmental risks at a wide range of toxic sites across Canada, many in the North. It focuses on cleaning up high-priority sites.

While there is no definitive list of upcoming projects, they include former mines, oil and gas exploration or extraction locations, weather stations, former Dew line installations, or military sites.

Across Canada, the federal government has documented 23,633 contaminated sites.

Of these, 2,496 are flagged as a priority for remediation. Fifty-nine of those are in the NWT – while another 1,317 sites in the territory have yet to be classified.

Project sites in the territories are often remote. In the presentation at the geoscience forum, federal procurement specialist LaVona Parker told attendees remote camp supply and operation would be a common requirement.

Parker’s presentation stated there were no size limits for qualifying companies, nor did they need to be experienced in all disciplines. Other areas of work may include construction, demolition, or hazardous materials abatement, she said.

The federal government has allocated billions of dollars to the clean-up of contaminated sites in recent years, led by the billion-dollar project that is the remediation of the former Giant gold mine on Yellowknife’s doorstep.

Recently, Liberal MP Michael McLeod called on his government to increasing hiring of local and Indigenous people for northern mine reclamation.

In the past, the Giant Mine Oversight Board – an independent watchdog observing the clean-up of Yellowknife’s toxic mine – has called the number of Giant remediation jobs allocated to northerners “very disappointing.”

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