Conseil Scolaire Catholique Franco-Nord, Mattawa Campus: Exhibiting Construction Management Magnifique

The Conseil scolaire catholique Franco-Nord school board offers continuous French-language education for residents living in the Nipissing-Parry Sound region of Ontario. The board provides programs that run from junior kindergarten through grade 12, and its facilities total 14 French Catholic primary schools and three French Catholic secondary schools that are located in Mattawa, Bonfield, Astorville, Thorne, North Bay, Sturgeon Falls, River Valley and Verner. In 2011 the school system moved forward to relocate the primary and secondary schools in Mattawa into one brand new facility on one site. They had been working on this agenda for almost six years.

The project went out for tender in February 2011 and construction was scheduled to commence in May 2011. Actual construction commenced in July 2011. The project was completed in fall 2012 in time for the start of the 2012-2013 school year thanks to the skilled management and coordination by a local general contractor, Monteith Building Group Ltd. (Monteith).

Off and Running on a Tight Schedule

The Conseil scolaire catholique Franco-Nord project was racing against the clock from the beginning. Monteith broke ground in July 2011, already almost two months behind schedule due to a common construction woe: delayed confirmation of government funding. However, explains Matt Jessup, the Monteith project manager, the company was reasonably confident that the project would proceed, so the team began some preliminary legwork behind-the-scenes, in anticipation of a delayed start date. Jessup has been with Monteith, an ICI construction company active in northern and central Ontario, for eight years and has been in the industry for 16.

“Time was the biggest challenge,” admits Jessup. “We knew it would be a challenge going in, but we all worked together to get it done.” The project included the demolition of the existing primary school in two phases and new ground-up construction for both the primary and secondary schools, all of which had to be completed within one year’s time. The 65,000-square foot, $14 million project was “so important to the school board,” says Jessup, who further explains that it was important “to have these schools under one roof.”

The primary and secondary schools were ready for students at the start of the new school year. An additional facility, a daycare, was completed a few months later in December 2012 (as called for in the project’s contractual timeline).

Teamwork in Order to Meet Timelines

The team had to accelerate the schedule, explains Jessup, and while it was challenging, the school board, JL Richards & Associates Ltd. (the architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical consultant) and Monteith’s construction personnel were able to work as one big team, which was essential in achieving the goal. “We had additional trade and site meetings to really organize and coordinate the schedule and all the trades really stepped up to the plate,” recognizes Jessup. “I really have to give applause to all the Monteith team members; from our President Mike Monteith, who directed that we commence preparations ahead of the award, to our superintendent Denver Dick, and all the other coordinators, foreman and tradespersons who really put their hearts into it. I would like to say that we always do, but this one seemed special right from the onset for everyone.

“I would say it was one of the best teams I’ve worked with, as far as the entire group goes,” Jessup continues. “It was a very challenging [project]; you always have standard hiccups, but it was relatively smooth overall, considering the complexity of the work and the demands of the schedule. I had worked with this school board before, and JL Richards before, and I had worked with probably a quarter of the sub trades before, but a lot of them were new. JL Richards also stepped up to the plate and this tightened the cohesiveness of the team.”

Monteith is a company that employs approximately 50 people, and its staff is comprised of project managers, project coordinators, site supervisors and craftsmen. This team completed all the groundwork and site work, as well as some carpentry and specialty work, with the rest of the work portioned out to well-vetted sub trades.

Early and critical milestones were packed in to the front end of the project, explains Jessup, revealing, “We had to get out of the ground as quickly as possible. Then we had to get our superstructure up: the structural steel. Then it was about getting closed in and getting floors poured, and then hammering the finishes toward completion.”

Success is in the End Product

As a trusted construction company in its region, with offices in Orillia and North Bay, Monteith has completed many projects since the company was founded in 1981. This portfolio of projects, ranging from $100,000 to $30 million in value, includes full design-build, construction management services to lump sum bonded institutional and commercial projects throughout Ontario. On all projects, Monteith strives to be competitively priced while delivering consistent, reliable, above-average service.

Of Monteith, Jessup says, “It’s a great company. We’re like a big family.” The company is a member of the Canada Green Building Council (CGBC) and the Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA). It employs certified construction technologists; professional engineers; Gold Seal-certified supervisors, managers and estimators; and LEED Accredited Professionals who can manage the LEED certification process and the company’s use of green-building techniques. For example, illustrates Jessup, during construction of the school Monteith “separated and recycled waste appropriately, and did the same with the demolition materials for the old building [the primary school on site].”

Monteith also took extra measures to make sure that local environmental concerns were addressed, as the site was near local water systems. The team made sure things like cement runoff did not contaminate the ground, and that the jobsite was stocked with stations for adequately washing tools, shovels, etc.

When all was said and done, “this was the largest project I’ve managed,” says Jessup. “I’ve worked on other projects (schools, nursing homes, apartments) this large as a site supervisor, but not as a project manager.” In the end, he says that success on a project is easily identifiable in “a happy owner.” Operating with a teamwork-focused philosophy, Monteith Building Group Ltd. will continue to apply technical and management construction skills that assure every one of the company’s projects benefits the company, project owner and the community alike.