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TRAINING THURSDAY: Project Planning & Cost Control

One of our popular past training courses is coming back in 2018! The ICBA training department is pleased to add Project Planning & Cost Control to our Lower Mainland course calendar in February.

The course is designed to provide owners, managers, estimators, and field personnel with a general knowledge of the process of planning and controlling a project from beginning to end utilizing ways and means of monitoring, saving and controlling costs. Here’s what’s covered:

    • Understanding the impact and methodology of construction cost control.
    • Ways and means of minimizing and controlling costs on site.
  • Project cost forecasting and accounting functions on site.
  • Project planning and its purpose and effect on project cost control.
  • How to communicate & assist management re: cost methods and control.
  • Gain additional insight into the process of work and cost analysis.
  • Cost reporting systems – new technology in monitoring costs and reports.
  • Understanding the effect improper field reporting has on cost control. Maintaining and managing documents, material, tools and equipment.
  • Understanding the Contract process from bidding to project close-out.
  • Review of 100 companies and their methods in controlling & saving costs.

You’ll also earn Gold Seal Credits and Continued Professional Development Points from BC Housing. The two-day session starts February 20; register now here.

Interested in putting this course on privately for your employees? Email our training team at training@icba.ca and they will handle all of the logistics for you.

You don’t have to be a member to take our training! Start planning your 2018 workshops now by checking out www.icba.ca/training.

OP-ED: Trade tribunal’s ruling could derail future of LNG in B.C.

This piece by ICBA president Chris Gardner first appeared in The Globe and Mail.

Canada just can’t seem to get out of our own way when it comes to major infrastructure projects and responsible resource development. Political leaders and bureaucrats keep tripping us up with red tape, questionable decisions, higher taxes and costly self-inflicted mistakes. One could be forgiven for thinking that we have set about to sabotage our economic future.

Earlier this year, a little-known federal body, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT), issued a decision that, if left to stand, could kill British Columbia’s emerging LNG industry and cost us thousands of high-paid jobs and billions in new investment.

LNG Canada is close to a final investment decision on a major LNG plant in Kitimat – the $40 billion project would represent the largest private sector investment ever anywhere in Canada. To do it, the company would need large complex steel modular components built abroad and transported to B.C. where they will be installed.

But the trade tribunal has issued a ruling that certain fabricated industrial steel components exported from China, South Korea and Spain, are being “dumped” into the Canadian market and causing “injury” to the Canadian domestic steel industry.

This has created a major problem for the emerging LNG industry in B.C. A key component of LNG facilities – large, complex, steel modular components – can only be built at a few shipyards around the world. No company in Canada can build these things here. The components cannot, and will not, be produced in Canada.

Astoundingly, CITT chose not to decide on the critical issue of these large complex steel modules, simply lumping them in with all the other steel imports.

We’re baffled. How on earth is the Canadian steel industry harmed if it is incapable of producing these large complex steel modules in the first place?

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association has repeatedly expressed concern about the ruling’s impacts on the broader competitiveness of B.C.’s construction industry. There is simply no domestic supplier network – including fabricated steel – that warrants protection from international competition.

And as bad as the ruling is for the construction industry generally, it could be fatal for B.C.’s potential LNG industry, and it simply couldn’t have come at a worse time.

LNG Canada and Woodfibre LNG are both hard at work “sharpening their pencils” as they drive toward final investment decisions. If this CITT decision stands, it will inflate costs and could very well make these projects uncompetitive.

The trade tribunal risks smothering billions of dollars in investment and killing thousands of jobs. LNG Canada alone would need 4,000 workers to build a facility in Kitimat. In addition, 3,000 more workers would be required to build the pipeline that will move natural gas from B.C.’s northeast to the west coast.

The Conference Board of Canada has estimated that the LNG industry could deliver $7.4 billion annually to Canada’s GDP and generate about 65,000 jobs per year over 30 years.

An all-hands-on-deck approach – including the federal government acting in the national interest – is required as the LNG industry drives hard toward the final investment decision goal line in 2018.

B.C. and Canada do not have a great record of approving and building large infrastructure projects – witness the cancellation of PNW LNG, Energy East, and Northern Gateway while Site C, Keystone XL and the TransMountain Pipeline expansion projects are all facing legal challenges and protests. No wonder B.C. has sunk to the bottom 25 per cent, worldwide, of places where oil and gas executives feel comfortable investing billions of dollars.

If there was an international “get-to-yes” challenge on major infrastructure projects, B.C. and Canada would fail.

The stakes are high. We need to find a way to build these projects or risk being forever labelled a country where new capital, new talent and new ideas are not welcome. All Canadians will benefit through increased tax revenue, job creation, and the purchase of goods and services throughout the energy value chain. Further, Indigenous communities are important partners and significant beneficiaries from these projects.

The CITT’s recent ruling is short-sighted and potentially fatal for the LNG industry. Time is of the essence, and the federal government should overturn this ill-advised, ill-considered and ill-timed trade ruling.

And if the federal government fails this test, British Columbians and all Canadians will be the losers – our competitiveness and our long-term prosperity will suffer while our global competitors will benefit.

MEDIA: Site C Coverage

Busy – and happy – day for us yesterday, with the NDP announcement that Site C will proceed. Here are some clippings:

  • Our president, Chris Gardner, in The Province:
    • The province’s big construction groups were also happy to hear they will keep their jobs and contracts. “With so much at stake for our province, better late than never for John Horgan,” said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.
  • Our Fort St. John rep, Art Jarvis, on the CBC:
    • Jarvis said he was glad construction would continue, but also criticized the way Horgan framed the announcement. “He made the statement that it’s not a project they would have started,” he said. 
      Still, Jarvis said many families tied to the project would be relieved by the news. “It could have been a blue Christmas,” he said.
  • Our Communications Director Jordan Bateman in Black Press:
    • Meanwhile, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association celebrated the thousands of jobs they believe will be kept and created by continuing work on Site C. Spokesperson Jordan Bateman said all the extra time the NDP government took to have the dam reviewed was unnecessary, only to have Horgan ultimately go forward.
      Bateman said he also doesn’t buy the province’s new $10.7-billion estimated price tag. When it was approved by the then-Liberal government in 2014, the project was estimated at $8.8 billion.
      “You have one analysis done in six weeks that says it could run over budget,” he said. “Frankly, the overruns that the NDP are planning for here are going to be caused by the NDP.”
  • Our VP-Regional Initiatives Mike Davis on CKPG:
    • ICBA is also appreciative of the decision. “Today is a big day for the construction industry in British Columbia and, particularly in Fort St. John, where you have two thousand employees working on this project, 80 percent of which are from BC and a good portion of that 80 percent are from the Peace region,” says Mike Davis, the ICBA’s Vice President of Regional Initiatives.
  • Gardner in the Financial Post:
    • “I think the economic case was quite compelling. Cancelling it would have meant billions of dollars in costs that the taxpayers of B.C. would have been on the hook for,” Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association said.
      He said his group was frustrated the NDP undertook a review of Site C at all given that an independent panel had studied it and the review “caused a lot of anxiety among the 2,000 people working on this project.”
      “They did fight this project very hard and this is an about-face,” Gardner said of the NDP’s position on the project.
  • Gardner in The Vancouver Sun:
    • The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association also supported the NDP’s plan to continue. “With so much at stake for our province, better late than never for John Horgan and the NDP Government to support Site C,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “This entire process and all of the uncertainty it caused was completely unnecessary. In the past four months, we have seen a rushed review and needless NDP-Green politicking create uncertainty and confusion that put this clean energy project, and the thousands of jobs it supports, at risk for no reason.”
  • Gardner again in The Sun:
    • And in the short term, for “the over 2,000 men and women working on that project, it is a great Christmas gift knowing they will have jobs in 2018,” said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Business Association of B.C.
      Despite the $10.7 billion cost, Gardner argued that Site C represents “a tremendous opportunity for British Columbia to help facilitate” Canada’s transition away from fossil fuels and “make our economy more competitive.”
  • Bateman on News 1130:
    • Meanwhile, Jordan Bateman with the Independent Contractors and Business Association says he’s relieved about today’s decision from Premier John Horgan and the NDP.
      He says the dam makes sense for energy, jobs and economics “and [you’re sending] a strong message to people looking at BC as a place to invest that yes, even with this government, there’s a chance you can get a big project through. So if you want to bring investment dollars to BC,
      hopefully this is a positive signal.”
      He believes some of the criticism of the project skewed the potential of alternative energy.
  • Gardner on CHEK TV:
    • Proponents say the announcement will save more than 2,000 jobs while giving investors more certainty about the future. “It’s an important project for the region. Remember, about 82 per cent of all the workers working on Site C right now are from British Columbia and half those individuals are from the Peace River area,” said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.

ICBA CAST: Site C Saved!

In a very special edition of the ICBA Cast, Chris and Jordan react live to the John Horgan Site C announcement. No association did more work on getting Site C to yes (and fighting to get this government to stick to yes):

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Relieved To See Site C Proceed

BURNABY, B.C.: The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) welcomed today’s announcement that work on the Site C clean energy project will continue.

“With so much at stake for our province, better late than never for John Horgan and the NDP Government to support Site C,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “This entire process and all of the uncertainty it caused was completely unnecessary. In the past four months, we have seen a rushed review and needless NDP-Green politicking create uncertainty and confusion that put this clean energy project, and the thousands of jobs it supports, at risk for no reason.”

ICBA launched a “pink slip” campaign to convince Premier Horgan to finish the Site C project and raise public awareness about the importance of Site C for B.C.’s clean energy future. Since the NDP and Greens signed their governing agreement promising a BCUC review, ICBA:

  • Held multiple media events with 2,500 specially-made pink slips representing the men and women working on the dam who faced mass layoffs
  • Published op-eds supporting completion
  • Hired a plane to fly a pro Site C banner over the NDP Throne Speech
  • Placed a billboard on the Pat Bay Highway promoting Site C
  • Launched a poster campaign in Fort St. John to support the dam
  • Generated several thousand emails and letters from the public supporting the dam through ICBA’s “Get2Yes” platform
  • Launched an intensive social media campaign for the dam, with six Site C Facebook videos being watched nearly 150,000 times
  • Made several presentations to the BCUC during its review, including in Vancouver, Prince George and Fort St. John

“We were proud to stand up for the workers at Site C, for BC Hydro ratepayers, and for all British Columbians who will benefit for generations from this clean, affordable, reliable energy supply of electricity,” said Gardner. Long before this latest review, Site C was one of the most scrutinized projects in B.C. history, and made sense both economically and environmentally. “Our message from the start of this process was clear: the review was unnecessary – finish Site C and keep building B.C.”

ICBA does have some concerns with Horgan’s plan. Arbitrarily setting apprentice and other workforce ratios will limit contractor flexibility and inevitably drive up costs and slow the construction schedule.

“By tilting the playing field in favour of the 20 per cent of the construction industry represented by the traditional Building Trades unions, the NDP is driving up costs to finish the dam,” said Gardner, noting that ICBA is the single-largest sponsor of construction apprentices in B.C. “Not only is this unfair to the 80 per cent of construction workers in B.C. not affiliated with an NDP-aligned union, any time you distort the market, erode competition, create more bureaucracy, and remove flexibility, it costs more. Unfortunately, the taxpayers of B.C. will be stuck with the bill.”

TRAINING THURSDAY: Nuts & Bolts of Builders’ Liens Breakfast

What are you doing for breakfast on December 14? The training department wants to offer you a hot breakfast buffet and give you some valuable information at our Nuts & Bolts of Builders’ Liens breakfast in Burnaby!

If you work in the construction industry, it’s essential that you have a basic understanding of builders’ liens and how they are used as a form of security for contractors, subcontractors, workers and suppliers. Understanding this complex area of law and applying some best practices will help you maximize your potential recovery and reduce your liabilities.

Here’s what the session covers:

  • An overview of the Builders Lien Act, including a review of the holdback provisions
  • The process for filing a claim of lien (who, what, where, when and how)
  • The process for cancelling a claim of lien
  • The process for enforcing a claim of lien
  • Best practices and tips for maximizing potential recovery

Plus, you’ll earn 2.5 Group B CPD Points from BC Housing! Register here now; don’t miss this important session!

For more information on our upcoming courses, visit www.icba.ca/training.

NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Applauds Desjardins for Pipeline Funding Decision

BURNABY, B.C. – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) applauded Desjardins, Canada’s largest credit union federation, for its announcement that it will continue to fund pipeline and other energy projects.

“This is welcome news for an industry that is under a lot of pressure and is often unfairly vilified,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “We congratulate Desjardins on making the right call and supporting Canada’s responsible resource development industry, the billions of dollars it generates, and the more than 400,000 Canadians it directly employs.”

Earlier this year, Desjardins caved into pressure from environmental activists and announced it would stop funding pipeline projects.

ICBA was Canada’s first and loudest voice opposing Desjardins’ original decision. ICBA president Chris Gardner penned two nationally-published op-eds, and ICBA supporters used its #Get2Yes web platform to send nearly a thousand e-mails to Desjardins CEO Guy Cormier asking him to reconsider. ICBA also used social media, including Facebook videos and posts, to spread the word.

Most importantly, ICBA was putting its money where its mouth is and committed to moving its insurance clients away from Desjardins to companies which support responsible resource development and Canadian energy companies.

“This was always about more than just Desjardins – it’s a message to the world that Canada supports responsible development of our natural resources,” said Gardner. “If we expect the wealth, innovation and investment that flows from harnessing Canada’s resources to grow, we need people standing up for Canadian energy, Canadian jobs and made-in-Canada decisions that benefit us all.”

NEWS: NDP Government Hides Speech Notes from FOI Request

So this is weird.

B.C. Premier John Horgan went to the annual BC Federation of Labour conference Oct. 26, and gave a speech laying out his labour agenda. More than 200 union activists were there, along with a handful of media.

We wanted to see the content of that speech, so we filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to get his speaking notes. This is a pretty standard FOI request.

We got the notes back today and, bizarrely, they’ve blanked-out four sections, saying that under Section 13 they can’t be released. Section 13 of the Act exempts “policy advice or recommendations.”

But this was a public speech! How can they hide these sections? How could they be policy advice or recommendations?

The first severed section comes just before a rant about how bad the BC Liberals were (pages 30-31 of 40). The second comes in the middle of that rant about how bad the BC Liberals were (page 33 of 41). The third one comes in the middle of the sentence, “and XXXXXXX temporary foreign workers” (page 34 of 41). The fourth one comes just before Horgan talks about education (page 34 of 41).

Rest assured, we’re appealing this to the independent FOI Commissioner.

Click HERE for the speaking notes.

From our point of view, Horgan’s rhetoric is divisive and concerning. It seems he’s willing to tilt the playing field fully in favour of the 20% of the construction industry that is in the Building Trades Unions. It’s favoritism. A sample of his comments:

  • Horgan calls himself a “trade unionist” and pledges to “always be in [the BC Fed’s] corner.”
  • “The Fair Wage Commission will look at the world of work, not just wages.”
  • “We’ll use Project Labour Agreements… success stories like the Vancouver Island Highway project can happen again.”

LETTER: ICBA Calls on Trudeau Government to Reverse LNG-Damaging Tariff

Last week, ICBA sent a letter to federal finance minister Bill Morneau, asking him to reverse a Canadian International Trade Tribunal decision that would make it prohibitively expensive to import huge, complex modules needed for LNG plants. No Canadian facility could manufacture these, but the tribunal failed to exempt them in a pushback against steel imported from China, South Korea and Spain.

As our letter states:

Effectively, the recent CITT determination has a significant adverse impact on the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry’s ability to source and import “large complex modules” required to build globally competitive LNG facilities in British Columbia. These components are extremely large, with some weighing in excess of 7,000 metric tonnes, and require specialized transportation vessels. Internationally, there are only a few fabrication yards capable of building these complex modules in line with the requirements and project timelines for LNG projects in British Columbia. These components must be moved by specialized marine heavy-lift ships given their enormous size, and cannot – and will not – be produced in Canada. There is simply no domestic supplier network in Canada that warrants protection.

The full letter can be found HERE.