Design Engineering

Calgary firm to make buildings for remote communities

By Canadian Press   

General construction

Atco customizable pre-engineered modules designed to create whole communities from scratch.

Calgary — Atco Group said Monday it is starting a new business that will provide pre-fabricated buildings to remote aboriginal communities across Canada that badly need infrastructure.

The Calgary-based company said the new subsidiary, Atco Sustainable Communities, can design and build entire communities, including offices, schools, daycare centres, housing, hockey arenas and retail outlets.

“Pretty much every piece of infrastructure that you find in cities is lacking — not necessarily everything in every community, but every community needs something,” Atco Sustainable Communities president Boris Rassin said in an interview.

Atco Sustainable Communities already has “tens of millions” of dollars in business, with a six projects already on the go, he said.


For instance, a school at the St. Mary’s Indian Band in southeastern B.C., will have its grand opening next month, as will a daycare complex at the George Gordon First Nation, north of Regina.

The components will be pre-engineered and manufactured in a factory, which the company says will allow short project timelines that are both cost-effective and quality-controlled.

Rassin said that’s a “perfect solution” for communities that have a short construction season and that are far away from materials and labour. The modules will also be built in a dry facility, so mould won’t be an issue.

The communities that hire Atco to make their buildings will have a say in what the structures look like, said Rassin.

“They may want some of their past reflected in the architecture of the building. They may have some symbolism that they find appropriate.”

Atco Group will also provide infrastructure for water purification and power.

“We’re uniquely positioned to build the whole community from scratch with our sister companies,” said Rassin.

Atco president and CEO Nancy Southern said the company has been partnering with indigenous communities since 1981.

“This company will harness our experience and expertise to help develop remote communities with facilities that contribute to a high quality of life and that reflect the community’s cultural values.”

Atco Group has more than 8,800 employees and assets of about $13 billion.

Its businesses include utilities, power generation, natural gas gathering, processing, storage and liquids extraction, manufacturing, logistics and noise abatement.
© 2012 The Canadian Press


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