A runner crosses the Nares River bridge. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)

YG awards Nares River bridge contract

$12.6 M crossing will replace dilapidated wooden span

The Yukon government has awarded the contract to build a new Nares River bridge in Carcross.

The $12.6-million project was handed out under the territory’s new value-driven procurement method.

Unlike with previous contracts, the winning company was not automatically the one that bid the lowest.

Instead, the government used a points system which included criteria for First Nation participation and Northern experience.

Ruskin Construction Ltd. out of British Columbia is working with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation’s management corporation.

According to the Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works, more than a quarter of the labour force and more than 15 per cent of subcontracting and training will go to First Nations members.

“We are excited to provide employment in our community and to offer short- and long- term training opportunities for our citizens through our development corporation,” Carcross/Tagish First Nation Khà Shâde Héni Andy Carvill said in a statement.

During the request for proposals companies could earn a maximum of 1,000 points. Details around the price they were willing to charge accounted for 785 points. Up to 100 points had to do with the team’s Northern experience and another 100 were for First Nations participation. The last 15 points related to the schedule.

First Nations participation was never required under the old price-driven procurement model, said Minister of Highways and Public Works Richard Mostyn.

“Afterward you say, ‘well, I hope you hire some First Nation people’ … but in this they actually had to say concretely how they would do it.”

In this case Ruskin had both the lowest price and the highest score.

But the new points method means theoretically future contracts could end up not going to the lowest bidder.

Mostyn said it can be fiscally responsible to spend more money if that money stays in the community.

“The money stays local, it starts building capacity and the locals’ ability to compete in the economy. There is a multiplier. Government may spend more on the project but the community will see a bigger benefit.”

He said his department will be assessing the local benefits of this project and coming up with criteria for when the new method of procurement will be used for other contracts.

Some projects might still be price-driven if they cannot be locally-sourced, he said.

“But if there is an area where locals could provide the service or provide value, and that value would stay in the community, then we’ll start to use (a) value-driven model.”

The new Nares Bridge will be made of concrete and steel. It will replace a wooden bridge built in the 1970s.

The wooden bridge has seen growing heavy traffic, the minister said.

“It’s not able to handle these heavy loads. It’s getting smashed by heavy trucks going over it. We spend a lot of money trying to maintain that wooden base.”

Mostyn said the new bridge will include nine light standards and a wider area for pedestrians to cross.

The project is expected to start this winter and take two years. Mostyn said the old bridge will stay in place while the new one is being built nearby and then be dismantled when construction is complete.

Contact Ashley Joannou ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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