Crews from Spirit Lake prepare for vegetation management work along BC Hydro’s transmission lines.

Hydro and Spirit Lake partnership benefits business

BC Hydro and the First Nations operated company Spirit Lake Silviculture have developed a business relationship

BC Hydro and the First Nations operated company Spirit Lake Silviculture have developed a business relationship that is a win-win for both companies for vegetation management services along power lines.

“BC Hydro relies on a variety of suppliers for a wide range of products and services for BC Hydro,” says BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson.

“This was done through a Request for Proposal procurement process on BC Bid where we shortlisted companies, based on pricing and expertise, and in some cases keep them on a shortlist on an ongoing basis to be contacted about specific upcoming work.”

Spirit Lake Silviculture, based out of Campbell River and a business developed by members of the We Wai Kai Nation, is on such a shortlist for vegetation management work along power lines.

“We can only succeed through relationships and the relationship with First Nations is of high importance to BC Hydro,” adds Watson.

“As part of our commitment to the advancement of Aboriginal economic opportunities, BC Hydro ensures that some of our contractors and suppliers are Aboriginal businesses and individuals. Spirit Lake works within a subcontractor arrangement BC Hydro has with Adept Vegetation Management and Asplundh Canada. For Spirit Lake it broadens their reach and access to different equipment and expertise, and helps these prime contractors get to use an efficient specialist company. This arrangement helps foster economic development. Given the expanse of our operations and capital projects, BC Hydro has a role to play in working with aboriginal people to achieve economic success.”

Since company inception about nine years ago, and eight years now with BC Hydro subcontract work, BC Hydro has provided about 200 hectares of power line right of way vegetation maintenance work per year.

“Over the past six years, I have had the pleasure of working with Spirit Lake to foster a general contract with them on vegetation management along our power lines,” says BC Hydro’s Transmission Vegetation Coordinator, Jonathan Mitchell. “My role is to monitor the system for vegetation maintenance, hazard tree removals and scheduled tree pruning for transmission lines in the North Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast region, and I have witnessed all through this time a company that works to the highest possible standard. These standards are most evident in the areas of quality, safety and environmental awareness. They are a consciences and industrious crew.”

The company has provided steady work for We Wai Kai band members.

“The company and its work are important to me, particularly since my late son Ralph Dick Jr. was so involved,” says Chief Ralph Dick. “I am very proud of this company and the people running it, and appreciate BC Hydro’s support in providing for us a venue to be successful and showcase our skills.”

There are five full time staff and six more seasonal staff. They are fully certified, and equipped and outfitted for various uses including hand vegetation removals, herbicide applications to limit growth underneath transmission lines, and other forestry work.

The company also is SAFE Certified and has access to other certified fallers if needed for larger jobs.

“The development and encouragement given to Spirit Lake is a real success story for both BC Hydro and Spirit Lake,” adds Mitchell. “This company has been able to gain valuable work experience and field processes that have enabled them to pursue other opportunities in other sectors such as forestry and construction.”

“I am proud of our staff and work,” says Spirit Lake Silviculture Manager, Rob Dick. “With our success, we have been contacted by other First Nations to mentor similar enterprises within the forestry industry. We are known to be diligent, productive, cost-competitive and effective.”

In 2013, Spirit Lake was recognized for outstanding business achievement for a business with over ten people at the BC Aboriginal Business Awards.