Inside the Jimmie Creek Project

As you may know there has been a few projects in Klahoose’s traditional territory of Toba Inlet. Toba Montrose was the first run-of-the-river project that was in operation for approximately four years. It employed many band members and put Klahoose on the map in numerous ways. It was an amazing way for Klahoose to kick-start its economic plans and ventures; it was indeed a successful endeavour. However, the second project in Toba Inlet is on a much smaller scale. It is roughly half the size as the first project, and will take half the amount of time to complete. Alterra Power Corporation and Klahoose continue to work together, but innovation is a glue that holds successful working relationships together, and a different approach was taken for the second run-of-the-river project: Jimmie Creek. The Jimmie Creek Project is using mostly local contractors for completion, opposed to the last project, which had Peter Kiewit & Sons as their main contractor. Of course with new approaches benefits and challenges create the whole.

Penstock pipe is going to deliver the water from Jimmie Creek to the hydro turbines, and for the most part will be underground. These pipes will some very steep terrain.
Penstock pipe is going to deliver the water from Jimmie Creek to the hydro turbines, and for the most part will be underground. These pipes will see some very steep terrain.

The beauty of hiring local contractors is that they are familiar with the land. The steep terrain of Toba Inlet may come as an unsettling surprise to someone who has never seen such sheer landscape before. Also, it is a possibility to customize the work force and hire contractors that are more specialised in certain areas for the project. However, this order of operation may become stringent on the managers workload because daily meetings are essential with each contractor to assess what they can accomplish throughout the week. Once the focus for each company is established they can get up in the dark mornings and go. The project manager from SNC Lavalin, Jason Sirois, Owner Site Representative from Alterra Power Corporation, and a manager from each contracting company do this so there are no overlaps, and everything runs as smoothly as possible. During these meetings some local contractors may not be used to dealing with such a large operation. The set expectations and scrutiny with regards to environment, safety, and quality are a learning experience. On some mornings there may be tension, but at the end of the week, or at the end of the shift, production is running smoothly and the working goals are accomplished. These types of situations may not be easy, but the experiences that come from this are well worth the effort. It is all about perspective, and conveying the right message via clear communication. It is also under everyone’s interest to protect the land they are working on, and the true beauty of Toba Inlet can be preserved as much as possible.

Benefits and challenges aside, the run-of-the-river project is hiring locally, which is something to be proud of. Klahoose is providing working opportunities for our members, and to many from Vancouver Island. Contractors and managers are learning from each other in an organic way. It’s a step in a new direction that allows those working on the Jimmie Creek Project to go their own way and create their own structure to make ends meet, and keep production levels on high. Congratulations to everyone for putting heads together and working in a progressive fashion.