A rock the size of a small car obstructs the Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley Gap, April 18, 2018. (Revelstoke Review)

B.C. Highway 1 widening to Alberta demanded for decades

Future sections to use union-only construction deal

Two sections of four-laning Highway 1 between Kamloops and the Alberta border are already underway, and residents are anxious to see other parts widened, such as the notorious Three Valley Gap near Revelstoke.

Sections through national parks east and west of Golden are the responsibility of Parks Canada, with the rest jointly funded by the B.C. and federal governments. The North Fork section from Sicamous to Revelstoke is underway, as is the Donald to Forde Station Rd. west of Golden.

Planning work is underway for sections east of Salmon Arm and Chase, and phase four of the Kicking Horse Pass route east of Golden, which has a reputation as some of the most difficult and expensive highway and bridge sections in North America.

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena announced the start of work on Donald to Forde Station in April, with a price tag of $19.4 million to complete 2.5 km. A third of the money comes from Ottawa. Trevena said B.C. has committed $464 million over three years to “accelerate” upgrades to Highway 1.

A week before the announcement, a car-sized boulder landed on the highway at Three Valley Gap, the latest of many hazards where a pilot project to install protective mesh is underway this summer.

“That netting is not going to stop those boulders coming down,” Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok said at the time. “There need to be some geotechnical studies done there.”

RELATED: Three Valley Gap awaits rockfall solution

RELATED: Salmon Arm struggles with highway traffic

The Trans Canada sections are the first highway projects to be subject to the province’s new union-only major construction deal with the B.C. and Yukon Building Trades. The deal includes pre-set wages and benefits and a goal of 25 per cent apprentices on B.C. public construction projects.

Premier John Horgan says the arrangement is a remedy to “16 years of apprenticeship failure” under the previous B.C. Liberal government, and higher wages and benefits are needed to compete for skilled workers in a “hot” construction labour market.

“When we look at the track record of the B.C. Liberals on capital projects over the past number of years, virtually all of them were wildly over budget, and they were using temporary foreign workers or workers from outside British Columbia,” Horgan said. “So having local hire provisions, having a guarantee that we’re going to train people on site and we’re going to pay fair wages I think is going to help us in the days ahead.”

Horgan wouldn’t be pinned down on the extra costs, but Trevena has said the elaborate construction master agreement is expected to add between four and seven per cent to the cost of replacing the Pattullo Bridge between New Westminster and Surrey.

RELATED: B.C. NDP ‘helping its union friends’

Business and independent construction groups wrote an open letter to Horgan last week urging him to reconsider what they call “restrictive and regressive 1990s-style project labour agreements.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates that B.C. government projects over the next three years are expected to cost $25.6 billion, including between $2.4 billion and $4.8 billion as a result of the province’s agreement with 19 selected international unions.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Canada West Construction Union, the Christian Labour Association of Canada, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association and other groups called on Horgan to “abandon this ill-conceived procurement model.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturetrans-canada highway

Just Posted

Invermere council okay with ‘reverse grad march’ idea

Nothing finalized and complications aplenty, but Invermere council agrees to grad march idea

101-year-old man targets 101 block fundraising walk for food bank

A centenarian in Invermere has embarked on a new adventure to raise money for the food bank.

Wings Over the Rockies encourages nature viewing during pandemic

Three local photographers and Wings supporters offer nature viewing tips.

Hospital chief of staff provides guidance on COVID-19 and the Columbia Valley as we open up

Chief of staff says: “COVID-19 … is still here and is not going away any time soon.”

Our community news matters

Guest editorial by Arnold Malone

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

Most Read