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.
Last week, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his government would stall the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project indefinitely by convening yet another panel to do yet another study. Many experts believe the B.C. Government is violating the Canadian constitution by exceeding its jurisdiction over this federally-approved project.
Indeed, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, a member of the same NDP as John Horgan, has strongly rebuked her B.C. counterpart, rightly pointing out that B.C. is just trying to stall the pipeline project until it is cancelled.
Trans Mountain must meet 194 federal and provincial conditions, many of which relate to the environment
Green leader Andrew Weaver, whose support is the sole reason why John Horgan is in power today, has said the BC Government should choke out the pipeline project with unfair permit conditions
This project spent 29 months under intense review and consultation. There is nothing new for B.C. to add
The Conference Board of Canada says this pipeline would generate 678,000 person-years of employment and $18.5 billion in government revenue. B.C. would get 80% of the construction jobs and 12% of the revenue
We need to stand up for this pipeline project, for responsible resource development, and for the construction jobs they create.
This op/ed, by ICBA President Chris Gardner, first appeared in The Province newspaper on Feb. 6, 2018. It is now available for all media outlets to use.
It’s provincial budget time again – the first full-fledged NDP effort in 17 years.
It’s show time for the NDP government, and the scene is set. They assumed office in an enviable fiscal situation: five consecutive balanced budgets, a $2.7 billion surplus, a triple-A credit rating, and a debt-to-GDP ratio hovering just over 16 percent. This legacy of fiscal prudence will be hard to match given the challenges ahead.
First, B.C.’s overall competitiveness. As the Business Council of B.C. notes, B.C. has the sixth highest marginal effective tax rate for business when compared to 34 OECD jurisdictions and the 10 Canadian provinces.
While other jurisdictions are working to make their tax regimes more competitive, B.C. is heading in the opposite direction. The top marginal personal income tax rate for those earning more than $150,000 annually in B.C. now stands at 50 percent, up from 43 percent a mere 18 months ago.
Add to this the provincial government’s $5 increase to the carbon tax last fall while ending its revenue neutrality by cancelling offsetting tax cuts and tax credits.
Unfortunately, the list goes on – corporate tax increases, CPP hikes starting in 2019 (a federal measure), and a host of one-off increases to government fees and levies.
Further, the recent moves by the United States to significantly cut taxes will make it more difficult for Canadian companies to compete in the US, unless our federal government and the provinces coordinate more effectively.
Second, the new NDP government is also reviewing a wide-range of government programs and policies, such as environmental assessment rules, WorkSafe B.C. regulations, labour and employment policy, and more – creating a sense of uncertainty and sending negative signals to investors here and abroad about B.C.’s suitability as a place to invest.
Against this rather ominous backdrop, what should Premier Horgan and Minister of Finance James be thinking about as they finalize the provincial budget documents?
Early indications suggest the theme of the budget is affordability, framed largely around housing. So far, talk has centered largely on demand-side measures, such as expanding the foreign buyers tax. However, what really is required are measures to increase supply quickly – freeing up land for development, speeding up permitting and approvals at municipal halls, and taking action to truly increase density around key transit nodes, colleges and universities, and along major traffic corridors.
The NDP government, working with federal and municipal partners, must also get shovels in the ground for new rapid transit projects and value-destroying road bottlenecks.
To help pay for this, the provincial budget must deliver an overarching commitment to grow the economic pie through responsible resource development. Focus is needed to advance LNG projects to successful final investment decisions this year. While the economic reasons are very compelling, so too are the environmental benefits. B.C.’s LNG can help reduce global GHG emissions from more carbon-intensive fossil fuels being used in rapidly growing Asian markets.
The NDP government should also walk back its ill-advised, illegal and reckless attempt to delay construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. This $7.4 billion project is in the national interest, and was the subject of an exhaustive review process that stretched nearly three years. Nearly two years ago it was approved by the Trudeau Government with 194 conditions and a commitment to spend $1.5 billion to protect our coastline. The consultation is over, the approval has been granted, it’s time to start building.
At risk is billions in investment, thousands of family-supporting jobs for construction and energy services-related companies, and contract opportunities for Indigenous Nations and communities across the province.
This is reason enough for the premier to ignore Andrew Weaver’s anti-LNG and anti-pipeline rhetoric. B.C.’s economic future is far too important to be held hostage by the whims and policy jiggery-pokery of Weaver’s brand of politics, which seeks to undermine significant, sustainable, and shared prosperity. In just six months, Weaver has demonstrated the danger of having a government propped up by a small group of MLAs focused on a narrow agenda and willing to hold the province hostage to advance its deeply flawed goals.
As Budget 2018 approaches, it’s not too late for Premier Horgan and Finance Minister James to try and recast the NDP’s well-earned reputation in the 1990s for causing economic havoc so that this time the movie ends differently.
Taking a thoughtful, forward-looking approach to jobs and investment would show the public that the NDP government is serious about “building” economic prosperity, not just “sharing” it.
Do you understand contract law and how it relates to construction? Do you know how the BC Builders Lien Act works, and how to resolve construction disputes and avoid litigation? If your answer is no, our training department has the course for you!
Our Construction Law workshop takes place over two days; here’s what covered:
The basic concepts of contract law
CCA, CCDC and other contracts
Legal terms used in contracts
Bidding process and contractual obligations
Specifications, drawings and the contractual hierarchy
Contractual relationships between contractor and sub-contractor
Compiling and submitting proper extras and claims
Defining back charges and how to avoid them
Avoiding construction disputes and claims from the site level
Writing RFIs and Change Orders
The dispute resolution process
The Builder’s Lien Act
The Small Claims process
Safety legislation and regulations
By the end of the course, you will understand the basics of contract law, be familiar with various CCDC/CCA contracts, understand the contract responsibilities of various parties, and much more!
The NDP Government has struck a panel to find ways to replace the Medical Services Premium tax, which the government has promised to eliminate by 2021.
ICBA has made a submission to that panel, calling for “a combined approach which would trim existing government programs and dedicate completely new anticipated revenue streams (e.g. government ‘mark-up’ and taxation revenue from cannabis) to off-set MSP premium reductions.”
Yesterday, the B.C. Government announced it would wildly exceed it jurisdictional powers and placed a moratorium on construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline project, using a fake committee to stall it. We’ve been busy making the case against the NDP’s reckless action. See our news release HERE.
Here’s ICBA President on last night’s Global BC News Hour:
BURNABY, B.C.: The B.C. Government’s latest attempt to stall the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project should be outright rejected by federal authorities, says the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.
The provincial government announced today it has formed a committee to look at environmental impacts of pipelines – work that has already been covered during the Trans Mountain approval process, and despite millions of tax dollars already being invested in spill response. The pipeline was approved nearly two years ago with 194 environmental and legal conditions that Kinder Morgan is obligated to meet.
“It’s time to get to work on this project. This pipeline is in the national interest, which is why the federal cabinet approved it in the first place,” said ICBA president Chris Gardner. “All of the issues raised by Minster Heyman today have been previously addressed in the 29-month-long Trans Mountain approval process undertaken by the federal government, and endorsed by the provincial government. This is simply a stall tactic meant to flout the federal government’s jurisdiction. It’s time for Prime Minister Trudeau to act.”
Gardner called on the federal government and National Energy Board to reject B.C.’s stall tactics and allow construction to proceed on this vital $7.4 billion energy project.
“When it comes to attracting investment to B.C., the provincial government is speaking out of both sides of its mouth,” said Gardner. “In one breath, they’re in Asia, claiming that B.C. is open for business and is a safe, predictable place to invest. In the next, they’re putting road blocks in front of duly-approved energy projects and undermining investor confidence.”
ICBA will be launching an email campaign through its Get2Yes web platform to encourage Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr to push back against the B.C. Government’s overreach and stall tactics.
“Canada and B.C. cannot afford to have governments finding ways to use red tape to try and choke out properly approved infrastructure projects,” said Gardner. “We do not believe the province has this authority, and we call on the federal government to act again in the national interest to move this project forward without further delay.”
The NDP Government is currently reviewing the professional reliance model, which uses expertise outside government to vet and critique various projects. ICBA made a submission on behalf of our members, defending the current way this work is done. Here is an excerpt:
In our view, B.C.’s professional reliance system is not broken. Many professional disciplines are engaged in providing professional reliance, and overall ICBA believes this approach has generally served B.C. well. In a province as rich and diverse as ours’, the professional reliance model allows government and industry to source expertise — across many disciplines and both domestic and international – suited to specific technical considerations as needed on a project-by-project basis. The result is a review framework that is both rigorous and robust.
It is also important to understand that professional reliance is not a “one-way street” in which government decision-making has somehow devolved to qualified professionals. Rather, government always retains responsibility for setting legislative goals (and cascading regulation, policy and guidelines), and inspecting, reviewing and monitoring for desired outcomes in the public interest. Statutory decision making – including approvals and permitting – are the final steps in the project-development process. Flexibility provided by the professional reliance model allows government and proponents to source highly qualified professionals with specific on-the-ground expertise for which they are then accountable to their governing professional body. Self-governing professional organizations are an important aspect of making modern, responsive regulatory regimes function. Professional associations – with appropriate government consultation and oversight – are generally best-placed to determine where improvements are required within their respective “communities of practice”.
Our full submission to the review panel can be found HERE.
ICBA CAST: Chris and Jordan talk about Andrew Weaver’s silly comments on LNG, Christy Clark’s response to Patrick Brown’s resignation, the final BC Liberal leadership debate, and Trudeau v. Trump on taxes.
Download it on iTunes or Google Play (search for ICBA Cast) or listen here:
Life is stressful, and that is never more apparent than at work.
Approaching deadlines, client phone calls and a growing inbox can are just a few examples. Luckily, our training department is here to help with our upcoming Managing Stress in the Workplace workshops!In this workshop, learn how to recognize stress, how it affects your work and personal life, and effective strategies to handle stress in the workplace. You will also learn how to reduce your stress and set goals for effectively managing internal and external stressors.