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Construction industry’s changing role is vital for prosperity in B.C.

As we move into 2014, the future of British Columbia’s construction industry is looking bright.

With massive resource projects on the horizon and a recently re-elected provincial government that wants to harness the power of these projects to drive economic prosperity for all, thousands of new jobs will be created.

One example is the rapidly growing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry. As of today, there are 12 projects in various stages of development. They are some of the largest projects in our province’s history. Just one, the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, is larger than the proposed Keystone Pipeline expansion in the United States.

Two other examples are the multi-billion dollar pipeline proposals. The twinning of the TransCanada line in southern B.C. and the Enbridge Northern Gateway in the north will provide Canada with an unprecedented opportunity to move our vast natural resource wealth to the growing economies of Asia. Beyond the pipelines and LNG, there are several well-advanced mining proposals in the works – including Taseko’s New Prosperity Project in the B.C. Interior.

Taken together, there is potential to drive a boom the likes of which our province and our industry have never seen. Today however, it is only that, potential.

All these initiatives are moving through different approval processes at various stages. They have yet to receive a final green light, but the engine is revving up.

Our challenge today is how do we, together as an industry, ensure these projects get off the ground so our workers have jobs for today and tomorrow?

Traditionally, construction companies could simply look at the economics of a project and if numbers made sense, it was worth the risk. Today, it is much different than even 10 years ago. A construction company not only weighs the economics of a project, but they must also consider its social, economic and environmental impact. They understand that the more expansive these impacts, the more difficult it becomes for proponents and investors to gain public and government support.

That’s where the role of the construction industry comes in today. Our role now is to not only build projects and communities, but also to educate stakeholders, government and the public about the benefits of these projects. There is a greater emphasis on collaboration and leaders in the construction industry must also be focused on gaining public and government acceptance.

Everyone has a role to play in this new collaboration. Even the building trades, the founding fabric of the socialist movement in B.C., are realizing the resource development ahead. We welcome it, because we have an opportunity to change the course of our province.

The potential prosperity boom before us will allow B.C. to be an economic engine. It means hundreds of spin-off projects for business of all sizes. Homebuilders will be needed to help build communities in these areas. Contractors, plumbers, electricians and all construction trades will see increased work as a result of this economic growth. It means construction jobs for generations.

It will only be potential if we don’t act together and take on this new role on behalf of future generations.

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