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Philip Hochstein: Pro-development majority must fight B.C.’s bad reputation

British Columbia has a reputation as a hard place to get things done. Resource development, infrastructure builds, even residential construction — they all face regulatory complexity and intense interest-group scrutiny. Even with solid business cases and eager investors, many never make it to “yes.”


And now we have the NDP’s chilling suggestion that it would cancel the approved and under-construction Site C Clean Energy Project. In other words, something that is done would be undone and a hard-earned “yes” would turn into a “no” — at a massive cost in dollars and energy security.

Is this how British Columbians want things to be? Do we want to consistently signal to investors that they will have to get over much higher hurdles here? That even a final word on a proposal is never really final?

We’ve never believed that’s what British Columbians want and a recent poll by NRG Research Group clearly shows that it’s not. In fact, more than two-thirds of British Columbians agree that our economy is based on resource development and 82 per cent agree that such development can be balanced with the environment. Read more

CMD Group and ICBA join forces in B.C.

Strategic partnership will enhance access to industry insights and opportunities for ICBA members across the province

BURNABY, BC (November 25, 2015) – CMD Group Canada (CMD) and the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) of British Columbia today announce an unprecedented strategic alliance to enhance the value to ICBA members leveraging CMD’s powerful Insight platform.

CMILogo Final

ICBA members will access ICBA Construction Market Intelligence, a co-branded digital service providing bid and post-bid project leads; electronic plans and specs; detailed insights on firms including owners, design professionals, engineers and contractors; optional access to pre-bid leads, material and labour estimates on projects; and industry forecast and analytical data. Read more

Silent majority say ‘yes’ to responsible resource development while NDP leadership remains out of touch

A new study released today by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Associations (ICBA) reveals that overall 84 per cent of British Columbians support responsible resource development.

“It’s clear, the ‘no to everything’ movement in B.C. is not representative of citizens’ views on responsible resource development,” said Philip Hochstein, president of the ICBA. “This poll illustrates that a strong majority of British Columbians understand that B.C. is a resource-based economy and it creates jobs in every sector.”

Of the 800 British Columbians surveyed, the poll revealed that:

  • 67 per cent support the Site C Clean Energy project only 18 per cent oppose it;
  • 68 per cent support expansion of our ports and 20 per cent oppose it;
  • 62 per cent support mining and 25 per cent oppose it; and,
  • 58 per cent support LNG and 28 per cent oppose it.

With several large industrial projects going through an approval process, the ICBA commissioned NRG Research Group to conduct an online poll to understand attitudes towards the resource industry in B.C. Read more

The BC Construction Monitor: Federal Election Issue



Federal #Elxn2015: Big Gains are at Risk


We’re in the home stretch of a long election campaign that three parties are in serious contention to win. In part, that’s no doubt due to the inherent appeal that “change” tends to have whenever a long-standing government asks for another term. But “change” to what? And at what risk to the many gains we’ve made over the past decade?

The Conservatives have a clear track record. They have delivered low taxes, a return to balanced budgets, strong infrastructure investment, and economic performance and job growth that’s the envy of many other countries. These are gains well worth protecting.

The Conservatives understand the value of leaving more money in the pockets of businesses and individuals. They respect the fact that each of us is best positioned to make our own decisions about the spending that we and our families will benefit from most. In contrast, the other parties offer top-down policies, suffocating tax hikes and questionable budgetary plans.

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No silver bullet for housing affordability in BC

Governments push housing costs higher

Metro Vancouver’s high housing costs remain a discouraging reality for many local British Columbians, and there’s been a huge amount
of discussion recently about how we can ease affordability pressures.

Per House

But first, we need to give up the hope for a silver bullet and put all the issues on the table. Then we need to focus on the ones we’re most able to do something about. And on the top of that list are the added costs that our governments tack onto the price of a home. Fees, red tape, regulatory complexity and unacceptable delays add unnecessary premiums to already expensive housing in Metro Vancouver.
Governments often claim to be deeply concerned about affordability, but study after study confirms they’re part of the problem. And what’s even more troubling is lack of transparency and restrictions on consumer choice. Governments are quick to trumpet the benefits of new regulations – even if they don’t always hold up to scrutiny – but rarely have much to say about costs.

View the BC Construction Monitor that addresses housing affordability in the province.

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Opinions remain divided over B.C. apprenticeship requirements

Journal of Commerce, by Peter Caulfield, August 14, 2015

apprenticeship in bc
B.C. construction industry organization heads are divided on the effectiveness of the provincial government’s new Apprentices on Public Projects policy, which came into effect July 1,2015.

The government initiative will require contractors working on public construction projects that contain at least a $15 million government investment to sponsor apprentices through the entire project cycle and report on their on-project use before they receive their final payment.

“I believe the government’s plan to require contractors to hire apprentices is unnecessary,” said Jack Davidson, president of the British Columbia Road Builders and HeavyConstruction Association.

“Labor market forces will dictate the amount and type of training contractors need to be involved in.”

He said the government should take a different approach.

“Government would do better focusing on helping individual industries develop industry-designed training that fits their specific needs, rather than trying to support training using only the apprenticeship model,” Davidson said.

Philip Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C., said the best thing the B.C. government can do to increase the number of trained construction workers is to make sure there’s plenty of work.

“The province should stick to doing its utmost to attract investment to B.C.,” he said. Read more

Opinion: National rebar tariff is a Buy America preference imposed on B.C.

Pile of rebar
BC is collateral damage due to CITT’s national tariff on imported rebar. ICBA will continue to fight for BC’s construction industry.

Canada is a trading nation that is the envy of many because of the wealth of our resources and the resourcefulness of our people. Every province is formed by diverse

and unique trading economies requiring diverse skilled people.

It’s our unyielding ability to import and export goods that help our provinces grow, our national economy thrive and our country compete in a global marketplace.

Pivotal to maintaining our competitiveness, the Canada Border and Services Agency and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal share responsibility for protecting our industries from unfairly traded imports. Part of their job is to investigate complaints from Canadian industries.

The CBSA and the CITT have a number of tools to safeguard and protect Canadian businesses. For example, when foreign-owned eastern Canadian steel mills complained to the CBSA of dumping of rebar from China, Korea and Turkey, the CBSA and the CITT justly initiated an investigation. It was concluded there was dumping and a national tariff on rebar was put in place.

In many cases, a national tariff on goods from other countries can be the best solution to protecting our competitiveness and protecting Canadian jobs. However, we must acknowledge and recognize Canada is a diverse nation that does not allow for a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to trade policies.

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Step backwards for labour relations in B.C.

 Simple reality: No open shop contractor, including members of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCAC) and the BC Construction Association (BCCA) would support special status for any contractor based on union affiliation, especially when bidding on taxpayer-funded projects.

Not only was it disappointing that BC Hydro signed an MOU with the building trades unions (BTU) that gives added weight to those bids that include BTU contractors for work on the Site C project, but it was surprising that the leaders of the PCAC and BCCA came out in support of the MOU. In doing so, these organizations have declared to their membership that they no longer support fair, open and transparent tendering. And, BC Hydro has effectively granted preferential treatment for a set of unions ahead of fair competition.

This is a step backwards for labour relations in B.C.

40 years ago, in order to bid on a public project, the NDP mandated that contractors needed to be affiliated with the BTU. The result was significant labour unrest, project delays and cost overruns, which were passed onto taxpayers.

For the benefit of every British Columbian, over the past four decades, the construction industry has turned its back on this closed shop labour approach. It has been replaced with a more efficient and more inclusive open shop model that is based on equal treatment for all contractors, regardless of how their employees choose to be represented in the workplace.

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BC Hydro needs inclusive model for Site C construction

If the goal is to jeopardize the Site C Clean Energy project, then the building trades unions deserve credit.

Site C is a province-building opportunity that is a key asset in an increasingly competitive global economy. It will produce firm power for more than a century; contribute $3.2 billion to B.C.’s GDP; generate approximately 10,000 direct jobs and an additional 23,000 indirect jobs. B.C. can’t afford self-interest groups standing in the way.

Not surprisingly, the building trades unions (BTU) are putting their self-interests ahead of British Columbians. And, they are putting their interests ahead of construction workers who for the past 30 years have worked together on numerous projects regardless of their labour affiliation.

Truth be told, the construction industry has been a model of labour peace and stability. In fact, the majority of British Columbia’s major infrastructure projects have been built without a hitch using an inclusive approach to labour. Projects like construction for the 2010 Olympic Games venues, the Port Mann Bridge, the Sea to Sky Highway, the Canada Line and the Gibraltar and Copper Mountain mines were delivered on time, on budget and everyone worked side by side regardless of whether or not the worker had a union card. Read more