The BC Construction Monitor - Environmental Assessments
In the debate over energy infrastruc-ture and other major projects, one common question recently has been whether proposals are being rigorously enough reviewed. This issue of the Monitor takes a close look at what major project review processes actually consist of.
Even with more renewables and energy efficiency, rising global demand means we’ll need to rely on conventional energy sources for a long time yet. Fossil fuels provided 84% of the world’s energy in 2012, and are projected to provide 78% in 2040.
After an unprecedented long period of post-election uncertainty, a minority NDP government has taken power in Victoria – with the formal backing of the Green caucus. And while speculation abounds about the likely shelf life of this government, I believe current dynamics suggest it will remain in power for at least a significant proportion of the usual four-year term.
So in this Monitor, we take stock of what that may mean for B.C. – drawing from the platforms and accord of the two parties, ministerial mandate letters, and various public statements from key figures within the NDP and Green Parties.
We begin with the current outlook for several resource-development and other major projects, upon which thousands of existing and even more future jobs depend. None of these projects were treated very favourably in the NDP or Green platforms, and if anything the outlook has worsened since they formally took power. Indeed, Pacific NorthWest LNG was just cancelled – a $36 billion investment lost.
The message from Pacific NorthWest LNG’s decision is that we have to move faster to compete globally – but the new government is signalling that we will be moving more slowly, if at all, on many major projects.
We also look at some of the central players in the new government – with a particular focus on those with construction-related portfolios – and at the agendas they’ve been tasked with implementing. As with the cabinet as a whole, these people represent a narrow segment of views and backgrounds, with markedly little experience in entrepreneurship, small business or the private sector.
Finally, we look at the single most troubling of all the Labour Code reforms the NDP would like to implement – elimination of a secret ballot for union certification. Encouragingly, this one is a bridge-too-far for the Greens, and one we hope they’ll prevent the NDP from crossing.
As to the rest of the NDP’s agenda and how this all unfolds, we’ll be watching carefully and intervening forcefully if we see construction sector and major provincial interests jeopardized – as we already have in recent weeks with our campaign to support Site C. And if you haven’t already joined us in the effort, please be sure to sign up as part of our #Get2Yes Community: http://get2yes.icba.ca.
Major Projects Check In
These four energy and infrastructure projects all have their environmental approvals, and construction was either underway or on the cusp of proceeding at the time of the election.
Site C Clean Energy
A $9B investment in clean power designed to operate for 100+ years has now been sent back for yet another review. Best case? Delays that cost taxpayers. Worst case? 2,500 people currently working on the project get pink slips.
Trans Mountain Pipeline
In what experts have called a violation of the rule of law, the NDP has pledged to use “every tool available” to stop this $7B project. Recent speculation has focused on making it “prohibitive” for the project to get provincial permits.
Pacific NorthWest LNG
Global market dynamics and skepticism on the part of the new government – the threat of increased regulation and taxation – contributed to the collapse of the business case for what might have been the largest-ever private sector investment in B.C.
George Massey Tunnel
The province is leaving this $3B project up to regional mayors – most of whom oppose it, except for the mayor of Delta. If the bridge is cancelled, extending the life of the existing tunnel will come at a high cost.
Who and What: NDP Minister and Their Marching Orders
The NDP front benches are dominated by trade union organizers, environmental activists, community organizers and other special interests, with sparse representation from outside Greater Vancouver and Victoria. Government MLAs are short on experience in small business or the private sector. Further, a bleak outlook for the construction and responsible resource development sector emerges from a close look at the Green and NDP platforms, the accord between the two parties, the mandate letters issued to ministers, and other indications of next steps.
Stacking the Deck with Card Check Unionization
Joining a union is a deeply personal and very important decision – one that can impact the competitiveness and viability of a business. The BC Liberals and Greens favour the current democratic approach to determining whether a union gets certified – employees get to vote using a secret ballot. The governing NDP is determined to turn the clock back to “card check.”
The card check approach removes the secret ballot and opens the union certification process to intimidation and coercion.
Vote or Sign: Two Different Paths to a Crucial Decision
ICBA CAST: Chris Gardner & Jordan Batemanwelcome Jas Johal, MLA for Richmond-Queensborough, to talk about his background as a journalist, his first few months in politics, and (yes, we’ll ask him) the BC Liberal leadership race. Plus #comeon, a social media question, & Chris’s most-hated segment, the BC Liberal Leadership Power Rankings (with fun new ranking board!).
ICBA CAST! Terrace’s Lucy Sager joins Chris Gardner and Jordan Bateman to talk about the impact of the loss of Pacific Northwest LNG on northwest B.C., along with regular features #ComeOn and social media questions. And we debut our first-ever BC Liberal leadership race power rankings. Will Chris and Jordan agree on who is most likely to win the race to Christy Clark?
ICBA continues to support projects to #Get2Yes and #Stick2Yes by filing an application to intervene in the Squamish Nation’s B.C. Supreme Court case against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The issue being raised by Squamish Nation is that the Province relied on the federal government’s assessment of Trans Mountain’s proposal and its consultation and negotiations with Indigenous communities impacted by the project. In the opinion of Squamish Nation, the Province cannot cede its obligations in this regard to the federal government. The Province took this position given the federal government’s responsibility for reviewing and approving interprovincial pipelines. In recent years, Ottawa and Victoria agreed that in such cases, having one environmental review and consultation process was simpler and more efficient for all parties: proponents, Indigenous communities and other stakeholders.
ICBA is not challenging the constitutional obligations that the federal or provincial governments have vis-à-vis Indigenous communities and ICBA recognizes that in some cases, the obligations of the Crown to Indigenous communities may in fact prevent some projects from moving forward. ICBA is simply asserting that project reviews and consultations take place in a timely manner so that infrastructure and resource development projects can be approved in a fashion that allows Canada and BC to get projects built and its resources to market efficiently. ICBA’s concern is that duplicative and overlapping reviews will result in confusion and conflicting proceedings that could paralyze major projects and cost our economy jobs and investment. In this case, since the federal government has jurisdiction over the Trans Mountain pipeline project, we believe it is appropriate that the federal government lead the review and consultation process.
The Application was filed by our attorney, Peter Gall, Q.C. and we are being joined in the application by the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA), the Canadian Iron, Steel and Industrial Workers’ Union (CISIWU), and the Canada West Construction Union (CWCU). Click HERE to read ICBA’s application to intervene.
Providing exceptional customer service also leads to customer retention. Companies not only need to advertise, but must have strategies to retain business. Ask yourself: how do I or my employees serve our customers? Are all customers the same? If you want to improve this side of your business, ICBA’s brand-new Providing Exceptional Customer Service course is for you and your employees!
In this seminar, you’ll learn how to:
Develop your customer engagement and experience strategy;
Apply effective listening skills;
Draw out what your clients really need, and how to add value;
Work with difficult and demanding customers; (we all have them);
Build strong and lasting relationships with potential and existing clients.
We’re bringing this course to Kelowna and Victoria in October, Burnaby in November, and Prince George in December. Check out www.icba.ca/training for a full course description and to register. While you’re there, take a peek at our full course list!
Not a member? Not a problem! We offer courses to members and non-members, though you’ll save on registration if you become a member with us.
If you’re interested in a private course, we would be pleased to bring the trainer directly to your office. Email our training team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on how we can bring this course or any of our other workshops directly to you.
By Chris Gardner, President, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (This op/ed first appeared in The Province on August 4, 2017, and is now free for anyone to publish.)
Bureaucrats aren’t known for their horror writing skills. But Delta’s report on what would happen to the Massey Tunnel if there was an earthquake should send chills down the spine of every driver in the Lower Mainland.
Imagine an ordinary weekday morning, with traffic on Highway 99 backed up, as usual, in both directions. Hundreds of vehicles are slowly trickling through the tunnel when the ground begins to shake – a 6.7 earthquake.
The tunnel, described in the report as, “a brittle structure in highly unstable/liquefiable soils,” buckles. The ground under it turns to mush. Power is lost almost immediately, plunging the structure into darkness.
Cars and trucks slam on their brakes, causing major accidents in every lane. The tunnel rocks upward, breaks free and starts moving downstream, pushed by the Fraser River.
Muddy river water gushes into the dark tunnel, trapping motorists. At this moment, an emergency pump is supposed to whir into action and “should” keep the water level low enough for people to escape during the following hour. “Should” isn’t a great bet.
One can only imagine the terror in what would likely be the final moments for many of these people. It’s a risk that motorists using the Massey Tunnel take every day.
If this was not scary enough, where is the other place you wouldn’t want to be in a car when the “big one” hits? The 80-year-old Pattullo Bridge, already on the verge of falling into the Fraser.
How did one of the largest cities in a G7 economy, a city considered one of the most desirable places to live in the world, end up with two major pieces of failing infrastructure? Two reasons: old-fashioned government neglect, and a relatively new, but increasingly fashionable, movement finding favor among activists: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.
To their credit, the previous BC Liberal government tried to address Massey. The tunnel is not safe, it’s not effective at moving people and it’s become one of the biggest traffic chokepoints in the country. Yet the Metro Vancouver mayors are fighting its replacement tooth and nail.
All the mayors have voted against Massey – except for Delta’s Lois Jackson, who has spent the most time studying and considering it. Jackson knows that, after 145 technical and scientific reports examining all of the options, a new bridge is the safest and most cost-effective. The environmental assessments are complete, more than 3,000 people attended 110 public meetings, and construction is about to start. So, what’s the problem?
The provincial government has changed hands, and the NDP-Green alliance is looking to kill the project under the guise of “working with” the Metro Vancouver mayors.
Yes, they want to work with those same Metro Vancouver mayors who can’t even manage their own TransLink infrastructure properly. The mayors have responsibility for two major bridges: the new Golden Ears and the old Pattullo. It’s failing at half its portfolio, yet the NDP give their opinion precedence.
In the mayors’ world, failure at TransLink is always someone else’s fault: ‘out-of-touch’ Ottawa, ‘anti-urban’ Victoria, chintzy taxpayers for not excitedly handing over more money to wasteful TransLink, or ‘selfish’ drivers who should just get out of their cars and take transit.
We need to build more infrastructure – not less. Metro Vancouver is growing. We need to invest in transit, in new roads and new bridges to ensure that we can move people and goods in, around, and through the region. It’s not about choosing one project over another, it’s about revitalizing our aging infrastructure and building a strategic mix of new assets so that businesses located in the region can compete and families living in the region can get around safely and efficiently.
As the NDP prepares to cancel the Massey Tunnel replacement, keep in mind two facts: the Geological Survey of Canada records more than 2,500 earthquakes in western Canada and off the B.C. coast every year. Metro Vancouver has at least a 30% chance of a major earthquake in the next 50 years.
Let’s pray our elected officials are not really prepared to roll the dice with people’s lives.
Calling all electricians! Are you new to the industry or need a refresher? Make sure you register for our FREE BCSA Orientation Course – “A Great Start” on September 8 in Burnaby!
We’re hosting a complimentary orientation session and breakfast for those looking to learn a bit more about the industry. You’ll also get the chance to speak to your local BC Safety Authority Safety Officers.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
An overview of permit types, when they are required, and how to obtain one
Managing your relationship with BCSA through contact with safety officers and the website
How to stay up to date with the latest changes in your technology
How BCSA uses compliance and enforcement actions to level the playing field
Don’t forget to bring a laptop, tablet or cell phone with you so you can take full advantage of these tips.
While the breakfast is free, we require that you register in advance. Check out this breakfast and our full list of upcoming courses at www.icba.ca/training.