The two consulting firms responsible for building the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway (ITH) – Tetra Tech Canada Inc. and Stantec – won an Award of Excellence at the 29th annual Awards for Engineering Excellence Gala April 7.

The gala is hosted by the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies, British Columbia (ACEC-BC), an association representing 85 of the province’s consulting engineering companies.

The newly-completed Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, pictured, is one of the reasons for the projected increase in tourism to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk this summer.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

Ed Grozic, principal specialist of Arctic development for Tetra Tech, said although he was not at the gala to receive the award, it is a big deal to receive this recognition.

“Receiving recognition as an engineering company from your peers, that what you’ve done is neat and appreciated, and that it hits a level of excellence, it’s a big deal,” said Grozic. “It’s a nice piece of recognition, it’s a feather in one’s hat.”

He thinks the ITH will open up opportunities for local communities that are similar to those that the construction of the Dempster highway did in the 1960s.

“It is a transformational piece of infrastructure. It’s benefitted communities and local individuals, to have more mobility than they did before,” he said. “When you build infrastructure like that, you’re building opportunities. That to me is the coolest part. For me, as an engineer and an individual, I’m grateful for being part of a project that isn’t just another project. It’s a piece of infrastructure that is fundamentally going to transform the North moving forward.”

He thinks those opportunities are beyond what we can imagine now.

“If you build it, they will come. That’s what will happen here. What the future holds, we don’t know, but we can guess that it will increase tourism and grow business,” he said. “Those are possibilities, but there are other things that will come of it that we haven’t even thought of yet.”

One of the most important aspects of the road, Grozic said, is that it was built in collaboration with local people.

“The road was built by local companies that used local resources. So this road was built grassroots by local folks, predominantly Inuvialuit and Gwich’in folks from Inuvik and Tuk. Sure there were other companies from other parts of Canada that helped support that, but it was led by local contractors,” he said. “That is really cool, that is really important. The contractors made it happen.”

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