Environmental Issues in the Canadian Shield

Canadian Shield Consultants, a water and wastewater consultation, construction, and engineering services firm located in St. Charles, has been operating for nearly two decades, since 1996. Its accomplishments have been many, for the company has consistently built on its knowledge base to expand into new markets. Like any other, the company fought hard for its successes along the way. Today, with its team of consultants, designers, and engineers, Canadian Shield Consultants can offer a wide variety of water and wastewater treatment services and products.

The company’s President and CEO, local resident Gerry Dignard, describes a full range of water and wastewater treatment services, from environmental studies, consultations, and reports to construction and installation of systems, maintenance, and after-sales services. Canadian Shield Consultants provides turnkey water and wastewater services. “That’s what differentiates us from others, ” says Dignard, “that we do all those components.”

Canadians Shield Consultants offers its services to residential, commercial, governmental, and tourism industries. Dignard remarks about accessibility in the tourism industry, “The easy spots are already developed; only challenging sites are left.”

To provide the best service possible to clients across such a broad spectrum means the company has to consider many factors, including site-specific challenges, client needs and wishes, location (which could necessitate air or water transport), and the ability to utilise soil to treat waste. For Dignard and his company, ensuring client satisfaction involves “proper investigative assessments to determine the best product available in the most affordable way.”

A few years ago, the company expanded into the mining and manufacturing industries, purchasing a helicopter to access remote regions of the country where exploration camps are set up. Throughout this expansion, the company always bore environmental stewardship in mind. Wastewater treatment services are essentially an environmental service. As Dignard says, “The end goal is to return treated wastewater to the natural environment in the same state or better than when it was taken.”

Part of environmental stewardship is taking advantage of nature’s filtering and cleansing ability. For example, Dignard says peat moss is a natural product which has been tested and proven to treat wastewater, and which can additionally be used for composting. He says it’s also important to adapt the technology to the natural environment.

This year, Canadian Shield Consultants is ready to enter a new field. Emergency water and wastewater treatment services are needed more and more these days in light of increasingly frequent spills, whether from oil pipelines, mining tailings ponds, derailed trains, tanker truck accidents on roadways, or other industrial activity. Canadian Shield Consultants is hiring new staff to set up a first response emergency spill containment and clean-up supervision team. The company will also complete initial environmental impact assessments following toxic waste spills to determine the extent of the damage and aid with its minimisation. Canadian Shield Consultants is hopeful of entering into more agreements with oil and mining industry leaders and others.

That’s great news for the community, which will benefit from the foreseen job growth and its trickle effects. The company “employs local staff and attracts professionals to the area, ” states Dignard. But his interest in his hometown isn’t purely economic. He’s active in trying to get local people involved in environmental stewardship, working with government agencies, universities, local organisations, tourism associations, and First Nations by sharing data and reports, making presentations, and providing expertise on wastewater management, lagoons, and landfill leaching.

Canadian Shield Consultants is always “looking to improve its environmental stewardship, ” maintains Dignard. His engineers research and develop new technologies for new challenges, performing in-house soil samples and planning an in-house soil lab in the future.

For now, the company is working with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to help with the collection of water samples in various areas of Northern Ontario to identify the uses and impacts of blue-green algae. It is also involved with sampling abandoned mines’ tailings ponds to identify possible toxins.

Says Dignard, “Canadian Shield Consultants works to be viable and sustainable in a community where we want to do business.”

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