The contractors behind some of British Columbia’s most innovative and important transportation and infrastructure projects — including two from the North Okanagan — were recognized at the B.C. Deputy Minister’s Contractor of the Year Awards ceremony in Victoria.
The categories for this year’s awards included road and bridge maintenance, community service, workplace health and safety, paving, grading and bridge and structures. North Okanagan winners included JPW Road and Bridge Inc. of Armstrong and VSA Highway Maintenance of Spallumcheen.
JPW Road and Bridge Inc. of Armstrong took home the Community Service award for its dedication, particularly toward Vernon-based Venture Training, and Armstrong-based Kindale Developmental Association. The company’s commitment to helping communities was also recently highlighted by instituting 7.5 hours of paid leave, per employee, per year to assist in local volunteer efforts.
All of us at JPW Road and Bridge Inc. are honoured to receive the Deputy Minister’s Community Service Award for 2018,” said company president and general manager Joe Wrobel.
“Like our fellow road builders and maintenance contractors, we believe in being part of our local communities and helping those that are disadvantaged. We are very proud of our association with Venture Training of Vernon in providing meaningful employment for their enthusiastic and hard working crew. They help us with contract litter collection, rest are maintenance, minor landscaping and bridge rail painting.
“It is also great to be part of Kindale Development Association’s innovative fabric recycling program. Since the program inception in 2014 hundreds of thousands of kilograms of clothing have been diverted from landfills (455,602 pounds of recycling from the landfill).”
Wrobel said corporate support efforts are spread across the North Okanagan – Shuswap, helping with community clean-up in Cherryville, the Farmer’s Market in Armstrong, South Shuswap Canada Day celebrations, the Secwepemc Gathering, the Chase Senior’s Centre retaining wall construction, and local food bank donations. JPW’s Show Off the Plow sessions with close to 1,000 local elementary students have been very well received.
“As a company we support all our employees’ volunteer efforts providing each of them with 7.5 hours per year of paid leave to work for non-profit and charitable causes,” said Wrobel.
VSA Highway Maintenance Ltd. was awarded this year’s honour for workplace health and safety.
Its initiative to analyze and study third-party incidents with plow trucks resulted in a significant drop in accidents for VSA and contributed to no workdays lost this past year due to third-party accidents.
“In the winter of 2015-16, there were 13 third-party incidents and about 10-12 in 2016-17,” said Gary Zecchel, CEO at VSA. “After that first winter, we knew that number was kind of high so we had to look at making our own initiative to help all individuals with defensive driving on highways.”
With the help of producers of the popular Discovery Channel TV show Highway Thru Hell, which looks at the trials and tribulations of drivers on the Coquihalla Highway, VSA put together an educational piece on when it is and isn’t OK to pass a snow plow.
VSA trucks have enhanced lighting, air baffles on the back to clear snow and make the truck more visible, plus lights have been added to the wings of the plow when in operation.
“The award is recognition for VSA for making it right on the highways for our own people and for the travelling public,” said Zecchel.
One other Okanagan company was recognized at the awards.
Peters Bros. Construction and Paving, based in Penticton, was given the top honour in paving for its work on the Highway 97 CN Railway tracks to Kiskatinaw Bridge project near Dawson Creek. The 68-kilometre project was delivered on budget and on time and included incorporating 20 per cent recycled asphalt.