About the Project
The Semiahmoo First Nation (SFN) Band located between White Rock and the US border was placed under a Boil Water Advisory (BWA) in 2005; with water issues predating the BWA to 1991. Spanning over 15 years, SFN is noted as having BC’s longest running BWA. The last 3 decades have been an uphill battle for SFN fighting for the right to basic needs of water and sewer services. In the ‘90s, SFN purchased water from privately owned utilities in White Rock. In 2007, 2 years after the BWA had been implemented, the community introduced a chlorine station. Chlorinating the water was a temporary measure, but several households still needed to order water jugs to support their households. It’s a logistical and emotional burden for a community to live without access to a basic necessity. The livelihood of the nation was threatened further in 2016 when the City of White Rock gave 18 months’ notice that it’d be terminating the already limited water supply. This is coupled with consistent inaction from the federal government stating the lack of support for SFN is their being situated in a remote area. “Remoteness” cited as a reason is an egregious statement considering SFN is situated by one of Canada’s largest growing municipalities; Surrey. This compelled the Band to seek an agreement with the City of Surrey to forge a respectful and profitable business partnership. The objective was to connect to the Metro Vancouver water source through the City of Surrey by constructing water and sanitary infrastructure. Through the extensive planning, design, and construction management between our stakeholders, Tybo Contracting, and our sub-consultant network, we successfully delivered a system that provides SFN with a safe water supply. The new system includes 12km of pipes and 3 new pump stations. Through the efforts of the nation and the consulting team, 31 homes and 6 administrative buildings can now access water straight from the tap.
Connecting with Indigenous communities is a unique process that must be treated differently than typical stakeholder or community engagement. The key to effective engagement revolves around clear, transparent, and timely communication. Creating respectful spaces for open dialogue for feedback and concerns allows us to make guided decisions in our technical expertise to produce an outcome that will best service the communities directly impacted by our works. A key stipulation to ensure SFN involvement through the course of the project was to maximize opportunities for employment of First Nation members and utilization of First Nation resources through the various phases of the project. Tender documents contained clauses instructing bidders as to the minimum extent to which they will incorporate local resources into the construction activities. It was also of great importance to introduce training and development programs to educate the members of the community by taking further steps to maximize economic benefits from the project. These programs consisted of teaching community members on how to read and interpret engineering drawings and manuals to gain further knowledge in day-to-day use of running water and sanitary systems. Instructions were also provided on water conservation and general directions on septic maintenance. By going through these processes, it ensures the integrity and longevity of infrastructure.
The privilege of providing our services allowed the lifting of the BWA. Contaminated soils were identified on the land which was cause for immediate removal and remediation. Flood protection had been created for low laying areas. Beach Road has also undergone safety improvements. The sanitation and health of the community has progressed. Municipal water connection and sewerage disposal will create opportunities for outside businesses to invest in SFN for economic development and growth.
Planning & Design Phase Management
Project Management Services
Project Team (Consultants)
Watanabe Engineering Ltd.
Project Team (Contractors)
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