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ANALYSIS: Prince George Growth Slowing; Construction Slipping

The Conference Board of Canada released a new report this week, looking at the economic prospects of several Canadian mid-sized cities. This included Prince George, B.C.

Basically, they foresee very, very moderate growth for B.C.’s Capital of the North: 1.5% this year, 1.7% in 2018. That’s down from a 1.8% growth rate in 2016.

It also predicts 5% employment growth for PG this year, which will help after the city saw an 8.2% loss in 2015. Still, the unemployment rate will hit a seven-year high of 6.9%, before edging back down to 6.4% in 2018.

“Construction output will contract in 2017 following exceptional gains over the last five years,” the report says. This is mainly because housing starts will cool – 245 this year, 213 in 2018; way down from the 313 started in 2016.

“On the non-residential side, work continues on $440 million in Highway 97 improvements, including the widening of the Cariboo Connector to four lanes. Composed of 27 projects that started in 2007, the entire venture is expected to wrap up at the end of 2018,” the report says. “Meanwhile, construction on the new $44.3-million Kelly Road secondary school is anticipated to begin this fall, with completion slated between 2018 and 2019. The construction of the proposed beef processing plant also provides upside risk to the metro area’s non-residential investment outlook.”

Two other notes: here’s a year-by-year look at the GDP of three mid-sized B.C. cities. Note how Prince George lags Nanaimo and Chilliwack.

And, given the awful news this week that the Pacific NorthWest LNG project has been scrapped, this paragraph is especially rough:

“Some Good News for B.C.’s Important LNG Industry – Recent federal approval and local First Nations support of Pacific NorthWest LNG’s proposal to construct a plant on the northern B.C. coast is welcome news for the struggling mining and mineral fuels sector… This agreement is a welcome boost for an industry that has been hurt by lower global demand, increased competition from the U.S., and weak commodity prices.”



ICBA CAST: Chris Gardner & Jordan Bateman talk about the collapse of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, John Horgan’s trip to Ottawa and Washington, NDP cabinet mandate letters, Aussie Senators, floating wind farms, fake CFL games (Go B.C. Timberwolves!) and more!

Search the iTunes podcast store for ‘ICBA Cast’ or listen below:

TRAINING THURSDAY: How We Choose New Courses

Have you ever wondered how the ICBA training department chooses new courses? Each year, ICBA offers hundreds of courses and provides training for

thousands of people across B.C. Our calendar is constantly updated, with new courses added several times a month. We are always searching for new and exciting presentation topics. These come in several different ways:

  • Through suggestions from our students
  • Requested by our members
  • Following key trending ideas
  • In support of new technology
  • Courses that improve safety in the workplace

“Life-long learning is essential to existence. Continuous improvement requires continuous training, and companies today will only remain competitive if they have a highly skilled workforce,” says ICBA Vice-President Dr. Lindsay Langill. “Training one’s workforce is not only the correct thing to do, but is a good investment.”

New to our training calendar this year:

  • Electrical Quality Management Systems
  • Estimating with Bluebeam Revu and Document Control with Bluebeam Revu
  • Arc Flash Safety
  • Leading and Managing Organizational Change
  • Responsibilities of Joint Health and Safety Committees, and many others!

Several new courses are currently in development and we can’t wait to tell you about them!

By the way, have you subscribed to our training newsletter to make sure you never miss a new course update? If you haven’t, make sure to subscribe at

We’d love to see you in one of our courses, even if you’re not an ICBA member. Check out our full course calendar at Have a suggestion for a new course? Our inboxes are always open; email us at

OP/ED: Do We Really Want Our Energy Sector to Come Back – Ever?

This op-ed, by Chris Gardner (President, ICBA), originally ran in The Financial Post on July 26, 2017.

It’s not easy doing business in Canada. Just ask Kinder Morgan. For years, Kinder Morgan worked to “Get to Yes” on its plan to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline.

They met with Indigenous communities, with municipalities, with businesses, with politicians, with NGOs, and with concerned citizens. They saw new governments rise – Rachel Notley in Alberta, Justin Trudeau in Ottawa – and after years of effort, and a 29-month independent review by the National Energy Board, Trans Mountain got its “Yes,” subject to 157 environmental and technical conditions.

The project was then approved by Prime Minister Trudeau. The B.C. government followed suit, adding another 37 conditions. For Canadians worried about the risks of an oil spill, 194 conditions plus a commitment by the federal government to invest $1.5 billion to protect our coast line, should provide comfort that no jurisdiction in the world brings its natural resources to market as safely as Canada.

However, it appears “Get to Yes” is just one step in a very long journey. Once approved, the challenge becomes “Sticking to Yes.”

Desjardins, the biggest credit union group in the country, announced earlier this month that it would stop funding pipeline projects in Canada. This shift in policy could impact not only Trans Mountain but also other important pipeline projects.

Desjardins was pressured by radical activists who oppose nearly everything about Canada’s energy industry and, given their announcement, Desjardins seems to be throwing in the towel.

In a letter to Desjardins that included the signatures of 11 American groups, plus three from Europe, the activists were dead wrong on number of key points – that Alberta’s oil industry is “massively destructive” (it isn’t), that Trans Mountain “abuses” Indigenous people (it doesn’t), that it will make our iconic orcas go extinct (it won’t), that pipelines have too many leaks already (they don’t), and that the Fraser River will be damaged (it won’t).

The fact that a large Canadian financial institution like Desjardins is buckling to activists who have no interest in an honest debate on Canada’s energy resources, is troubling.

The energy sector accounts for a significant part of Canada’s prosperity. More than 425,000 people support their families and communities by working in the oil and gas sector. The industry is the single largest private sector investor in Canada, forecast to invest $44 billion in 2017. That’s equivalent to the entire provincial budget of British Columbia.

The energy sector also pays an estimated $15 billion annually to government, ensuring all Canadians share in the benefits.

To be sure, there are important issues that need to be independently assessed when considering any large project, but this has to be done within a reasonable timeframe. But once the review is done, the conditions attached, and governments have provided their stamp of approval, projects need to move forward. Anything else would send a dangerous message to businesses and investors.

We risk being labelled a place where it is simply too difficult to get things done, or worse, a place where regulatory approvals are not worth the paper they are printed on. The result:  businesses and investors taking their ideas, their people and their capital elsewhere.

It’s already started. Over the past two years, some of the largest energy companies in the world have passed over Canada for more investor-friendly jurisdictions. The cost to Canada has been billions of dollars in investment and tens of thousands of lost jobs.

ICBA has launched a campaign asking Canadians to go to and send an email to Desjardins CEO Guy Cormier, asking him to reconsider. Maybe hearing from thousands of people across Canada will cause Desjardins to rethink its position. In recent years, ICBA has placed a sizable amount of our group benefit insurance business with Desjardins – given their decision, our business relationship is coming to an end.

But this is about more than Desjardins. If we expect the wealth, innovation and investment that flows from harnessing Canada’s rich natural resources to flow as freely as it did before the decline in commodity prices, everyone should be standing up for Canadian energy, Canadian jobs and made-in-Canada decisions that benefit all Canadians.

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Disappointed with PNW Decision

BURNABY, B.C. – Petronas’ decision to scrap its plan to build the Pacific Northwest LNG terminal (PNW) is a tough blow for the B.C. construction industry, the president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) said today.

“We are deeply disappointed that PNW will not go forward, as it means thousands of construction jobs will not materialize,” said ICBA president Chris Gardner.

PNW would have created 4,500 construction jobs, 330 long-term operations positions, and up to $1.3 billion per year in government revenue.

“No jurisdiction does energy extraction in a better, cleaner, more socially responsible way than Canada,” said Gardner. “This is a significant lost opportunity that would have brought many benefits. Canada has to act faster to seize the opportunities that our responsible resource development industries can deliver.”

ICBA’s #Get2Yes web campaign included a PNW section, encouraging people to support the project. During the federal government’s approval process, close to 2,400 letters supporting PNW were sent through

“Many of the job-creating projects we have been trying to #Get2Yes on are in jeopardy,” said Gardner. “PNW is lost. The Massey Tunnel replacement, Site C, and Trans Mountain pipeline are all facing stiff opposition. This is a chilling message to send to investors – why would anyone want to come to B.C. and put time and money into any major project?”

ICBA members work on virtually every significant construction project in the province, and would have worked on PNW. “Investment in major infrastructure and responsible resource development projects not only drive our economy but also provide jobs and opportunities for the more than 200,000 British Columbians who work in construction,” said Gardner.

TRAINING THURSDAY: Responsibilities of Joint Health and Safety Committee

Change is afoot, and the ICBA training department is responding to it!

As of April 2017, WorkSafeBC’s changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations around Joint Health and Safety committees and Worker Health and Safety Representatives makes training mandatory. Anyone joining a Joint Health and Safety Committee is required to take at least eight hours of training. ICBA is pleased to be able to offer this training as part of our continued commitment to exceptional customer service for our members and the construction industry as a whole (remember, you don’t have to be a member of ICBA to take our courses!).

Participants will learn:

  • How to use the OHS Regulation and WC Act to access health & safety requirements;
  • How to explain the roles and functions of the Joint Committee and the Worker Representatives;
  • How to perform an incident investigation;
  • How to perform a formal site inspection; and
  • How to:
    • Promote workplace health and safety
    • Assist in ensuring the health and safety program elements are implemented;
    • Conduct and participate in Joint Committee Meetings; and
    • Work cooperatively to address workers’ health and safety concerns.

Our first session is September 7 in Burnaby! Interested in taking this course or any of our other upcoming workshops? Check out the list at

Did you know that members of ICBA receive a discount on our courses? Check out for more information about the benefits of membership with ICBA and how this affiliation can help you build your business.

#GET2YES: Tell Desjardins to support responsible resource development in Canada

Desjardins, one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, is about to turn its back on Canadian energy workers after being pressured by environmental activists in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Rather than buckle to activists who have no interest in a fair and honest debate on our energy resources, Desjardins should stand up for Canadian jobs, Canadian energy and decisions made in Canada that benefit all Canadians. This is important – please make your voice heard. Tell Desjardins

to support responsible resource development in Canada. CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EMAIL TO DESJARDINS’ CEO!

Desjardins, the biggest association of credit unions in Canada, announced recently that they are suspending lending to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and reviewing whether they’ll ever fund another pipeline project. This would impact projects like Enbridge’s Line 3, TransCanada’s Keystone XL project and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.

Desjardins appears to have given into activists who oppose the Canadian oil sands and other resource development projects in Canada. In a  letter that included the signatures of 11 American groups, plus three from Europe, there are  demonstrably false facts – that the oil sands are “massively destructive” (they aren’t), that the pipeline “abuses” Indigenous people (it doesn’t), that it will make our iconic orcas go extinct (it won’t), that the current pipeline has too many leaks already (they don’t), and that the Fraser River will be damaged (it won’t).

Activists are threatening financial institutions as “priority targets” and threatening “significant reputational risks,” citing the SouthDakota Standing Rock protest model.


Enough with the nonsense and lies and indeed the threats. It’s time for Canadians to push back. Kinder Morgan did the hard work to #Get2Yes –and now we need our governments and lenders to #Stick2Yes.

The National Energy Board undertook a 29-month independent review of the TMP and approved the project subject to Kinder Morgan meeting 157environmental and technical conditions during the construction and operation of the pipeline. Subsequently, the Government of Prime Minister Trudeau approved TMP as did the Province of British Columbia. The B.C. Government added another 37 conditions.

All Canadians can take comfort in not only the robust nature of the review of TMP but also in the 194 environmental and technical conditions imposed on Kinder Morgan by the Federal and Provincial governments.

The energy sector accounts for a significant part of Canada’s wealth and prosperity. More than 425,000 people support their families and communities by working in the oil and gas sector. The industry is the single largest private sector investor in Canada, forecast to invest $44 billion in 2017.

In addition, the energy sector annually contributes an estimated $15 billion to government revenues in the form of royalty payments, land payments and corporate and municipal taxes, ensuring all Canadians benefit from our responsible resource development.

It’s time for Desjardins and other financial institutions to stand up for Canadian jobs, Canadian energy and Canadian decision-making.

Make your voice heard – tell Desjardins to support responsible resource development in Canada and the men and women who depend on energy jobs to support their families and their communities.


The Horganization of B.C. Begins

Well, it’s happened. After 16 years in opposition, the B.C. NDP will be sworn in as government. John Horgan is B.C.’s 36th Premier – and sixth from the NDP (following Barrett, Harcourt, Miller, Clark and Dosanjh).

The only people happier than the NDP today will be their union masters. They’re already pushing to take B.C. back to the 1990s in labour laws, taxation levels, closed shops, sectoral bargaining, and who knows what else.

Think we’re jumping the gun? Take a look at the background of the NDP MLAs. You’ll note a stunning lack of small business owners, corporate managers, or job creators. You will, however, see union activist after activist, various union bosses, and lots of former NDP staffers.

To help you sort out the new players, we’ve launched a series of 27 trading cards. Our Horgan’s Zeroes set details the NDP, labour, Communist Party (we’re not kidding!) and various other leftie credentials of 25 BC NDP MLAs and 2 key staffers.

Download your free set of Horgan Zeroes HERE. Print them! Trade them! Add them to your dartboards!