A Trusted Developer in the North

Ketza Group
Written by Ryan Cartner

Ketza Group is a construction company that specializes in industrial, commercial, institutional, and multi-family residential building projects. The company was founded in 1975 by Peter Densmore under the name Densmore Construction and has since expanded its reach across British Columbia, Alberta, and the North.
The services Ketza offers are widely varied and include design- build construction, concrete installation, structural steel and frame buildings, mill work, and finishing.

The company has a long history of taking on projects in the mining sector, and Ketza has developed an expertise in building the specialized infrastructure required by mining operations in northern climates. Some of the work the company has done in this sector includes mine access roads and haul roads for moving material, installing liners that limit seepage into the ground to protect groundwater quality, and building water and sewage systems. It offers exploration, drilling, trenching, and blasting services for pit operations, and builds tailings facilities to help deal with the waste material that’s mined along with ores. Ketza also builds earth dams, stream diversions, and leach pads which are used in a process that uses chemicals to separate precious metals from ore, and can build all of the administrative and warehousing facilities required in mining operations as well.

The first mining operation Ketza worked on was the Ketza River Mine in Ross River, Yukon. This was an open pit and underground gold and silver mine located in the Pelly Mountains. The mine was in peak operation from 1988 through 1990, and some minimal exploration continued afterward. Throughout its life, the mine processed more than 340 000 tons of ore, producing 3.1 million grams of gold. In 2011, Ketza was called on to return to the site for the provision of a complete fire protection system including plumbing, fire protection, water storage, buried fire-water piping, and generator and water storage tank heating and ventilation.

The company has worked with a number of other large-scale operations in the mining sector, including the impressive task of moving a gigantic wooden hull dredge in Dawson City, Yukon. A dredge is a mining machine that extracts gold from sand and dirt using water. The idea is that gold in sand or soil will settle to the bottom because it is heavier and the dirt and sand can then be washed away. The Dawson Dredge #4 was an enormous machine two-thirds the size of a football field in length and eight storeys tall. It was built in 1912 and operated for 46 years, retrieving nine tons of gold worth 8.6 million dollars. The machine is now a historical site and Ketza Group was hired to help rescue it from 18 feet of ice, silt and mud, and move it to its new location, an incredible feat.

Beyond the mining sector, Ketza has worked on a number of multi-family residential projects. One such project completed in March of this year was a six-plex in Carmacks, Yukon. This project was part of an initiative by the Carmacks Development Corporation to bring affordable housing to the region. A key client expectation in this project was for the building to maintain the highest possible energy efficiency in order to be cost-effective in the harsh northern climate. The project received an EnerGuide 85 rating. EnerGuide is the official rating system used by government of Canada to grade the energy efficiency of a building, and a rating of 85 is very efficient.

In the institutional sector, the company has worked on projects ranging from the City of Whitehorse Public Safety Building to various First Nations community projects. In Burwash Landing, Yukon, the firm built an addition to the Kluane First Nations Elder and Youth Centre, and this year the team built the Carcross Tagish First Nation Learning Centre in Carcross, Yukon. This project included laying a concrete foundation system, structural timber framing, interior work, metal roofing, fiberglass windows, finish carpentry and millwork, flooring, and painting. Ketza worked very closely with the architects in order to build a modern building that hearkens back to a traditional architectural style.

The foundation of Ketza’s success is built on three pillars: Safety, Community, and Environment, according to the company’s website at ketza.ca. When it comes to safety, zero harm is the company’s goal. The company understands that reaching this goal is a shared responsibility and requires that everyone work together to follow a strict set of guidelines that contain clear safety-related instructions for all employees in all roles. The objective is to not only meet but exceed safety regulations and have zero accidents and injuries. Ketza has been granted COR (Certificate of Recognition) by the Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associates. This certification verifies that the company has a fully implemented occupational safety and health program that meets national standards.

Ketza’s commitment to community has been demonstrated through its various community contributions including support to youth recreation and sports initiatives; support for Yukon Quest, which is a 1000 mile dog-sled race from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon; and donations of equipment and labour to Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club, to name a few examples. The company also has a history of working closely with First Nations governments and community organizations in development projects. Ketza understands the value of community and of making a positive impact.

To be sure, the construction industry has a major responsibility when it comes to environmental sustainability, and Ketza takes this responsibility very seriously. It is the company’s policy to minimize environmental impact to the highest degree possible in every project and it has been LEED certified to back up the claim. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is one of the most popular green building certification programs in the world and it is a highly specialized system for rating design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings.

One example of Ketza’s work that demonstrates its innovative approach to environmental sustainability is the Whitehorse Senior’s Housing project. This project was built from the ground up with sustainability in mind. A site was selected that had close access to public transportation and amenities such as supermarkets, restaurants, and the downtown core. The density of the 30-unit building was designed to combat urban sprawl. The roof was designed with grey-coloured material in order to combat the urban heat island effect – an effect that causes urban areas to retain heat throughout the day as a result of dark roofs and roads, which absorb sunlight, densely packed into small spaces. Native plants are used on the grounds to minimize irrigation and the need for pesticides. Exterior walls are heavily insulated, and the entire building was designed to allow natural light to permeate throughout to reduce power consumption. These and other innovative techniques were employed in this project and they are a clear demonstration of Ketza’s commitment to the environment and to liveability.

There are four key aspects to Ketza’s vision, according to the company’s website: First, ethical practices keep the company in line with the values of the communities in which it works; second, responsible management has enabled the company to build a strong reputation of transparency and accountability; third, creative problem solving means having the experience and the expertise to find viable, cost-effective solutions suited to the needs of the customer; lastly, trust is built through integrity in all of the relationships the company builds. These are the pillars upon which the company stands.

Success follows these values. Being able to complete a project on time and on budget, providing quality workmanship, and building long-term relationships with customers keeps the company profitable and in a position to offer the best possible service to its loyal clientele. It is Ketza’s promise to do the job right, and to do right by its clients.

Another key aspect to Ketza’s continuing prosperity is its commitment to collaboration with strategic partners. Having a network of like-minded organizations and professionals in the industries Ketza serves enables the firm to stay current with trends and best practices. Through cooperation with these many partnerships, the company is able to be more knowledgeable, more efficient, and more effective in meeting client expectations.

Ketza has a number of joint venture partnerships, which allow the company and its partners to pool their resources and reach goals outside of their individual grasp. As industry evolves, an expert workforce grows more and more valuable. The company’s joint venture partnerships allow it to pool talent along with resources and equipment to expand its capabilities. This collaboration gives Ketza access to a highly qualified team of estimators, managers, and educated workers all with extensive experience building in their specific regions.

AS well, Ketza remains committed to the First Nations communities of the Yukon through joint venture and employment opportunities. The company has a long history of working with First Nations development initiatives to build infrastructure, mines, highways, design-build construction projects, and more. Ketza has a solid reputation and a long history working with many of the Yukon’s First Nations communities including the Kluane, Little Salmon, Carmacks, Kwanlin Dun, Ta’an Kwach’an, Vuntut Gwitchin, Tr’ondek, White River, Selkirk, Champagne, Aishihik, Teslin Tlingit, Carcross, Tagish, Nacho Nyak Dun, and Liard nations.

With a strong legacy of commitment to its clients over 35 years in the construction industry, the Ketza Group has become a leader in the region, and will continue to build upon the reputation it has worked so diligently to achieve.



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