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Inuvik hospital construction on time

Ninety North construction uses Northerners to build Inuvik's new hospital

Thorunn Howatt
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Sep 24/01) - Ninety North's construction of Inuvik's new hospital is right on schedule.

The hospital is being built beside the old one that has serviced the people of Inuvik for 40 years.

The $37-million contract was awarded last May to 4801 NWT Ltd., a company that brought together the Uummarmiut Corporation and the Nihtat Gwich'in Development Corporation.

They in turn hired Ninety North Partners to do the project management and the construction.

"We're the general contractors," said president of Ninety North Construction Jack op der Heijde.

Ninety North Partners is made up 51 per cent from Ninety North Construction and 49 per cent from Stuart Olson construction.

"We have 57 people on site and then Ninety North Partners has about 25, so you've got up to 75 people on site at any given time," he said.

About three years ago the government of the Northwest Territories asked for design-build proposals for the construction of the new hospital. It asked for aboriginal partners to be involved in the project.

"That's where 4801 came in," he said. "4801 hired Ninety North to do the actual construction."

The construction company has mandates.

The beneficiary companies, made up of Gwich'in and Inuvialuit, have first opportunity, "and beneficiaries, as in labour, get first opportunity," said op der Heijde. "So if we can find a qualified, capable beneficiary company that conforms to budget, they get the first right of refusal to do the work."

Out of 25 Ninety North employees, four are Gwich'in, seven are Inuvialuit, two are local and 12 are non-Northerners.

The new building is expected to be complete by Christmas of 2002. But there's a lot to do after that.

"Early spring completion of the new facility, there's a transition period where they're moving over. That's the tricky part. They have to maintain surgery. They have to maintain acute care," said op der Heijde.

After everything has been moved over from the old hospital to the new, the old building will be demolished. Then work will start on the parking area and outdoor completions.

"Ninety North is a small construction company not a big construction company but in our own way we're growing," said op der Heijde.

For a number of years Ninety North has done about $25 million worth of work.

"We decided we wanted to do more," op der Heijde said.

He explained that a shortage of human resources in the North was limiting the company's ability to grow.

"It's a little bit ironic because we have expanded in Alberta yet our growth has all been in the North," he said.

Although it has no work in Alberta, the move has been a good one for the company. op der Heijde sites a shortage of upper management candidates as a reason for the move southward.

"We will do $41 million this fiscal year," he said.

Some of the other projects Ninety North has on the go include a school in Cambridge Bay, female young offenders in Inuvik, a firehall in Panniqtuuq, a school renovation in Hay River, camp and maintenance facility at Diavik as well as its splitting and sorting facility close to the Yellowknife airport and others.