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Credit: Courtesy of Tatras Group

The restoration and maintenance company combines rope access with engineering expertise

Building restoration calls for tradespeople to get into hard-to-reach places, but such tasks often damage a structure’s exterior and its surrounding ecosystem.

North Vancouver–based rope access specialist Tatras Group offers a better way, thanks to its innovative installation methods and in-house trades team.

“We can design a solution, whether that’s the material or how we’re putting it in place,” says project manager Will Guy. “But it’s unique to have a company that can use rope access methods as well as coming up with engineered solutions.” 

Tatras has two main divisions. The first focuses on building remediation—primarily envelope repair (a balcony, say, or any ledge you see on skyscrapers). These areas are most easily accessed using rope systems. The company’s other arm does industrial work on bridges.

When the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure put out a bid for the restoration of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in Vancouver, Tatras got the job for its unique approach to an avian problem. The pelagic cormorant, a seabird native to the West Coast, is protected under the Wildlife Act, which prevents construction from taking place within 50 metres of a bird or its nest.

Tatras worked with engineers and biologists to design a new netting system that stopped cormorants from entering the structure and nesting during construction.

“We were able to come in with a solution that would prevent any damage,” Guy says. “Once we removed the netting, there’s no sign of it ever having been there. There’s no impact to the structure.” Rather than drill into the bridge, Tatras designed and manufactured custom clamps and magnets to support the netting system. 

With traffic at a minimum and construction deemed essential when COVID-19 struck, Tatras was one of relatively few B.C. companies that thrived during the pandemic. “This has been a very busy year,” Guy says. “There were a lot of projects lined up pre-COVID, and we were able to work through. Next year is looking busy, too.”

Because its technicians are all permanent employees rather than contractors, Tatras can maintain a high and consistent level of skill and safety. “All of our techs are professionally trained rope access technicians,” Guy explains. “Everyone is certified and keeps log books.” The company’s safety record has earned it the coveted Certificate of Recognition (COR) from the BC Construction Safety Alliance.

“Basically, the common thread is, anything that’s hard to access for a conventional crew, we can do the same work and the same trades,” Guy says. “We just use these more efficient methods of getting into place.”