The air has a stillness to it when the temperature drops low enough, Murray Thomson thought to himself as he stared through the fog. Not the kind of day you want to be alone on these roads. Ahead of him, across the intersection, familiar lights cut through the early morning darkness. The rest of his convoy was here.
As superintendent for Mur-Cal, TransCanada’s prime contractor for clearing and grading for a new compressor station to be built 235 kilometres north of Peace River, Alberta, Thompson led a 15-vehicle convoy to the work site every day during the initial construction phase of the project this winter. Fifty-seven members of the Woodland Cree First Nation (WCFN) were employed during this phase, contributing to a total of over 800,000 km driven by TransCanada employees and contractors – all without a serious incident.
“Mur-Cal came up with the idea of driving together every morning and it’s worked. We’ve driven over 800,000 kilometres, often in poor winter driving conditions, and had zero recordable incidents,” said Matthew Shanks, TransCanada’s project manager for the Otter Lake Compressor Station project. “I’ve been very impressed with Mur-Cal and the Woodland Cree First Nation, their safety performance and commitment to working safety.”
WCFN was on site for initial site preparation and to build a 125-person work camp with partner ATCO Structures & Logistics. The lodge, which is scheduled to open this month, was built to increase productivity and reduce the amount of time spent driving to its remote location. ATCO and WCFN will also be working together to provide the project with camp management, catering, housekeeping and janitorial services.
“TransCanada has helped me and my family and I thank them for that. I will work with TransCanada any day over any other company, said WCFN contractor Joseph Whitehead Jr. III “Mur-Cal was also a big part of our success. Thank you Mur-Cal. Teamwork is everything.”
“This is my first time working for TransCanada and it has been a pleasure to build the pad for them,” said Beverly Sawan, a Mur-Cal rock truck driver for the past 11 years. “TransCanada’s crew are very nice to work for, awesome people. I would work for TransCanada any day.
Over the past six years, TransCanada has awarded several contracts to WCFN businesses including a partnership for a 600-person work camp, environmental inspection, logging and clearing, security services, reclamation work and camp accommodation services. TransCanada anticipates more local First Nations involvement as the compressor station moves into the construction phase.
“Without a doubt the Woodland Cree members are tops in my book and have done their community proud,” said Thomson. “When working for TransCanada, safety is the most important aspect of every project. Each and every member of the Woodland Cree participated, practiced and contributed to the success of the project.”