A first-of-its kind First Nation and non-First Nation road maintenance partnership is gaining traction.
Tŝilhqot’in Eten & Nadiltil (TEN) was formed in 2017 between Formula Contractors out of Prince George and Dandzen Development LP — the economic development branch for the Tŝilhqot’in National Government (TNG).
TEN recently completed work to replace the Cave Road and Knife Creek Road bridges and culverts damaged from flooding in 2020 for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI).
“This is an opportunity to work together with local government to find a solution to problems that we have and will have into the future,” said TNG tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse. “Fires and flooding is a big part of the modern narrative now. We have to adjust and we are honoured to work with MOTI and TEN to find solutions.”
Paul Tiefensee, chief executive officer of Formula, said during the last four years TEN has also been doing work on the Taseko-Nemiah Road and piling repairs on three bridges west of Williams Lake.
“We are also working with the ministry and partnering with Dawson Road Maintenance to replace a bridge west of Alexis Creek on Highway 20. Stay tuned for more on this”
To better withstand high-water levels, bridges are being built with a longer span, a higher elevation and on a piling foundation with more robust materials such as steel girders and concrete deck panels.
TEN is owned 51 per cent by all six Tŝilhqot’in communities and 49 per cent by Formula.
“We can not only supply the resources to do design-build, which are very complicated projects in comparison with the ministry doing a design and just bidding on it,” said Tiefenesee. “With the local area knowledge and other opportunities to improve west of Williams Lake this model would be interesting to people to know that once those projects are successfully delivered, we put our money where our mouth is.”
Initially TEN bid on the road maintenance contract as a First Nation company when it came up for renewal in the Central Cariboo Service Area #17 and came in second to Dawson Road Maintenance.
However, because TEN had to go through the process of being pre-qualified it opened opportunities for the company including partnering with Dawson Road Maintenance on projects.
“As far as we know we are one of the only, if not the only, First Nations owned companies to be on the pre-qualified list to be able to bid on maintenance services,” Tiefensee said.
Tiefensee grew up in Meldrum Creek, attended school in Riske Creek and later Williams Lake.
He previously worked for Caribou Road Services in both the Central Cariboo (Williams Lake) and South Peace (Dawson Creek) before becoming an owner in Formula in 2007.