Lakes District Maintenance projects go local

Out-of-town contractors find local trades people as well.

Almost two million dollars worth of construction spending went to local contractors and suppliers in Burns Lake when Lakes District Maintenance Ltd. expanded their facilities on the west end of town.

A new fleet of completely modern sanding trucks will be keeping your highways safe this winter.

Ray Maher,  Lakes District Maintenance (LDM) quality and systems manager, is enthusiastic about the five new Cubex sanding trucks LDM has purchased for this year’s highway operations.

“These trucks are GPS-capable and can sand up to five lanes at a time if they have to,” Maher said. “They can also spread liquid calcium chloride with the sand. The calcium chloride helps adhere the sanding mix to the road.”

Lakes District Maintenance has operations stretching from the Robson Valley through to Dease Lake. Lakes District Maintenance has a presence in 12 communities, but the Burns Lake operation centre is where LDM calls home.

Last summer, LDM invested close to $1.8 million into a new maintenance yard on the west end of town. The construction included a massive 10,000 square foot building that houses a large double-bay garage (or quad-bay garage depending on the size of vehicles it’s housing) equipped with a 4.5 tonne overhead crane.

The other side of the shop is a wash bay. Beneath the building is a 65,000 gallon water holding tank and a dedicated fire hydrant for Burns Lake Volunteer Fire and Rescue to hook up to in the case of a fire emergency.

The two Quonsets beside the shop not only protect sand and salt from the elements; they help prevent leaching of salt in to the ground.

The open house and community barbecue LDM held last August only capped off the commitment LDM has to the local community, whereever it operates.

“Lakes District Maintenance is and has always been a community-minded corporation,” said Wendy Benyk, LDM chief executive officer. “LDM is owned and managed by local residents. We all live and work in Burns Lake and have always been a strong community supporter in all of our service areas.”

These aren’t just words. When LDM sought quotes for their project, the lowest bid, whether for service or material, wasn’t their guiding principle.

“[We] didn’t choose the lowest bid that was submitted when looking for quotes for the project,” Benyk explained. “Non-local contractors had submitted lower bids, however, as we strive to hire locally, we chose a local contractor to complete the project for us.”

This wasn’t blind preference for local contractors though. The logic behind the preference includes LDM’s previous experience with local contractors and suppliers. Past experience of a job well done meant that LDM had the confidence to build a preference into the bidding process for local tradespeople.

In other words, the bottom line isn’t always the bottom line.

“When hiring contractors, we give a dollar tolerance or preference amount for local contractors, plus we look at quality of work and previous experience,” Benyk said.

The Burns Lake maintenance yard project was overseen by Country Homes as the prime contractor. Plumbing, electrical, painting, excavation and concrete pouring and forming were all contracted locally. Big Dog Construction handled the construction and erection of the curved steel quonsets. Lumber for the projects was sourced locally as well.

Another major project in town has been providing work for local contractors as well.

Major renovations at the BC Hydro facility in Burns Lake off Richmond Loop behind the baseball diamond have quietly been underway since last April.

The three million dollar project involved digging a half-kilometre trench to lay pipe and hook the facility up to village water lines, the installation of a modern fire suppression system, the construction of a new out-building vehicle bay, the expansion of the building, a new roof and exterior cladding, and a complete gut and renovation of the interior.

The project was awarded to Omicron Canada Inc., a large design and construction company with offices in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary.

Steve Nezaticky, Omicron site superintendent for the Burns Lake project, reports they have been successful in recruiting local contractors for different aspects of the project, but that he’s noticed local contractors seem very busy with the other big projects in town.

Burns Lake Country Homes, The Concrete Man, and Grant Conlon Trucking have all been contracted for work related to the project. Dez Wilson’s Plumbing has been involved in the project from the start, along with Prince George outfit All Pro Plumbing and Heating.

Most recently, the site first aid contract was awarded to local first aid service contractor, Eagle Eye First Aid.

“Speciality materials had to be brought in, but everything else has been local,” Nezaticky added.


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