Working in Canada’s North:

Although less than one percent of Canadians live in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, these northern regions comprise almost 40 percent of Canada’s land mass. About half of Canada is underlain by permafrost ranging from a few centimeters thick at the southern extreme to over 300 m in the Far North.

AerialThe occurrence and distribution of permafrost is dependent on physiographical differences in latitude, climate, and terrain. The need for adequate engineering in areas of permafrost (either continuous or discontinuous) cannot be over-stated; differential frost heave and thaw-settlement are but two of many challenges associated with northern development, in particular in permafrost regions where the frozen ground is in a state of delicate balance between remaining permanently frozen and thawing, the effects of climate change (warming) can be significant. Effects of permafrost degradation (thawing) include damage to structures, soil erosion, landslides, disappearance of lakes, and significant ground subsidence. The overarching key consideration for engineering in the north is how development may affect the ground thermal regime. In this regard, essential requirements for the success of engineered works are a thorough site investigation to characterize ground conditions, thermal modelling, and the design of measures to either prevent or compensate for the adverse effects of permafrost thawing. Offsetting the effects of global warming often may require the consideration of additional fill material thickness, thicker insulation, thermosyphons or other techniques.

Through our involvement in numerous northern projects and projects located on or near First Nations and Inuit communities, TREK has provided on-site training and mentoring to numerous community members. TREK endeavours to mentor local personnel during and after our assignments as investing in people has been the foundation of our success. TREK is committed to an inclusive working relationship that protects Canada’s north and the people that call it home.

TREK’s Experience in Canada’s North

TREK’s geotechnical engineering experience in Canada’s north spans the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Through our involvement in many mining, reclamation, materials testing and foundation engineering projects throughout the Territories, TREK’s staff have developed a unique respect and knowledge of the challenges working in Canada’s north. Our staff have extensive experience working in northern Canada and are very familiar with difficulties relating to construction and long-term performance of civil infrastructure on continuous and discontinuous permafrost.

TREK has provided geotechnical engineering and construction services on numerous projects ranging from geotechnical support with Remedial Action Plans (RAPs), legacy mine site closure, riverbank stabilization, bridge and building foundations, to flood protection infrastructure within the Territories, often with a focus on permafrost. Our clients include private developers, engineering consultants and contractors, as well as public entities.

Notable projects TREK has been involved in include geotechnical support on DEW line clean-up sites (including intermediate sites), the award-winning Mayo River flood control project, former Wellgreen Mill and Tailings site, Pelly River (at Faro) erosion control project and Atlin Hydro Expansion project. TREK has also recently provided foundation engineering services in the communities of Kugaaruk, and Cape Dorset, Nunavut and shoring design in Yellowknife.

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