Kiewit employees joined BC Hydro, First Nations partners and subcontractors on Aug. 1, 2018 to mark the completion of riprap upgrades to the WAC Bennett Dam near Hudson’s Hope, British Columbia.
The improvements to the dam replaced existing rock with larger, more durable limestone to better withstand environmental conditions like waves and fluctuating temperatures. BC Hydro President and Chief Operating Officer Chris O’Riley noted the project was completed a year and a half ahead of schedule and under budget.
More than 40 Elders and community members from local First Nations attended the ceremony. In all, six different First Nations groups were involved in the project.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Peter Kiewit Sons ULC Senior Vice President Ryan Tones thanked the First Nations for their partnership on the project every step of the way. “It was due to this positive relationship that the project team was able to overcome challenges and make the project a success,” Tones added.
Construction, which kicked off in September of 2016, followed an initial Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) phase. Reflecting on the project’s conclusion, O’Riley noted this model as a key reason for its successful completion.
“We came together early with Kiewit, using an early contractor involvement procurement process. This allowed us to take more time upfront to mitigate and plan for further risk and to work closely on design and planning,” O’Riley said. “This process put in place safeguards, built a strong relationship and helped establish an effective project plan.”
Tones noted one specific example where ECI helped the project team get a leg up on the work.
“We were able to engage with our First Nations partners early to finalize scopes of work before we started construction,” Tones said.
O’Riley said the upgrades are expected to extend the life of the WAC Bennett Dam for another 75 years. The facility was originally built in part by previous generations of Kiewit crews more than 50 years ago. As he thanked First Nations groups, Kiewit and other stakeholders for their work to make the project a success, O’Riley noted it was fitting that BC Hydro was once again working together with Kiewit to ensure the dam’s safe operation.
Salim Semsarilar served as Kiewit’s project manager, leading this generation of Kiewit employees’ efforts at the dam.
“It was an honor to be a part of this project from the start of the ECI phase and have the opportunity to be able to see it through completion until the last day of construction,” Semsarilar said. “The project team was able to solidify Kiewit’s position as a world class contractor with an important client and also established very positive relations with the local First Nation groups, subcontractors and suppliers.”