Aboriginal company awarded contract for tar ponds material processing facility

Cape Breton Post
Wed., Sept. 23, 2009

An aboriginal company has been awarded a $3.1-million contract to operate and maintain a material processing facility for the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens cleanup. Mikjikj Enterprises Ltd. of Eskasoni, in a joint venture with Harbour Tech Services Inc. of Sydney, was awarded the multi-year contract as part of the aboriginal set-aside signed in 2008 by federal and provincial governments and Membertou on behalf of all First Nations communities in Cape Breton.

The facility will begin operations in October and run until the cleanup is complete. The contract will employ five people, who will also be responsible for decommissioning the building. "You’ll have different contractors come in and they’ll make sure that once they leave the building that they’re cleaned before they go on public streets," said Tanya Collier-MacDonald of the role of the contract workers. She said employees will also maintain the building’s amenities block where contract workers will get showered and change into their street clothes.

Set-aside contracts have allowed companies with majority aboriginal ownership and control to benefit from the cleanup work. Aboriginal companies must have at least 51 per cent aboriginal ownership and control for eligibility and if there are more than five full-time employees, one-third must be aboriginal. Local company Joneljim Construction began building the $8.7-million material processing facility in 2008. All construction vehicles entering or leaving the site will pass through the building. Also, material and debris from remediation will be graded, sorted, and washed in the facility.

In January 2007, the government of Canada and province of Nova Scotia committed $400 million to ensure the tar ponds and coke ovens cleanup is completed by 2014.