On a bright and sunny day in late May a busload of aboriginal students from all over the Delta school district headed out to visit the next “wonder of the world” rising up out of a sandy bog.
—Tsawwassen Mills at completion in Fall 2016 will contain 1.42 million square feet of commercial space approaching Metrotown in floor area.
Students were invited on the tour because they were either taking or interested in trades as a possible career. Outfitted in hard-hats, safety glasses and steel-capped shoes (all required gear for construction sites) our eager learners toured the site and witnessed first-hand many of the 60-odd trades required in the construction of such a complex project. Perhaps we should have warned them that part of the tour was a two kilometre walk along the indoor “Main Street” which will soon be home to 180 retail stores including 16 anchor stores and 4 full service restaurants. No matter – their interest and enthusiasm was evident.
Everything about the Tsawwassen Mills development is huge – $42 million of sand, dredged from the Fraser River was delivered over a 12 month period at rates of up to 1000 trucks a day, 24 hours a day, six days a week to raise the 116 acre site above flood plain levels. Some 24,000 stone columns, each 12 metres long were sunk into the ground to improve seismic resistance and 64,000 drains each 80 foot in length added for settlement drainage. Around 750 workers per day are on the site currently and the expectation is that anywhere from 4500-5000 people will be working on site each day in the final couple of months this summer and fall. At completion it will be the first “New Build” LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified mall on the lower mainland.
The Mall is part of an ongoing effort in the creation of a sustainable economy for Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN). Construction reflects not only Aboriginal concern for the environment but also borrows many West Coast motifs in design and amenities. Indigenous craftship is evident throughout – Chief Bryce Williams is creating a centre-piece spindle whorl, and Carl Morgan is carving the Mall welcome posts as well as giving guidance to fabricators with regard to First Nations symbolisms for various other aboriginal inspired pieces. Wherever possible native tradespeople were hired by contractors and qualifying First Nations companies were given advanced opportunity to bid on elements of the project and preferred status in the award process. Besides tax revenues, a ‘Member Benefits’ agreement with the TFN will provide assistance with education, access to retail leasing, and employment opportunities to the community.
“Wherever possible native tradespeople were hired by contractors and qualifying First Nations companies were given advanced opportunity to bid on elements of the project and preferred status in the award process.”
All in all the tour was a tremendous success and will undoubtedly inspire the kids to take pride in community success and persuade them as to the merits of trades as a career path. We are grateful to Faye O’Neil, Tylyn Fasciglione and Maria Sutherland for getting the word out and chaperoning the visit, to Diane Jubinville and Brian Tivy for their support but most especially to the folks outside of the Delta School District. Tanya Corbet at TFN Community Outreach worked patiently at scheduling and Peter Bond at Ledcor put on an amazing tour, answered all our questions and entertained us with all manner of detail and stories about this fascinating endeavour.
– submitted by Clive Prideaux