Section of the Trans-Canada Highway east of Revelstoke to be widened starting this year at a cost of more than $85 million for two kilometres of four-laning and an expanded truck stopping area. (B.C. transportation ministry)

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

The price tag for the latest four-laning project on the Trans-Canada Highway jumped by more than $22 million as the first contract was awarded on the NDP government’s new union public construction mandate.

The B.C. transportation ministry has awarded the two-km stretch east of Revelstoke to Kelowna-based Emil Anderson Construction, with a budget increased from $62.9 million to $85.2 million. The increase is “due to escalating costs of materials, labour and the complexity of work required,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Illecillewaet project, 42 km east of Revelstoke, includes acceleration and deceleration lanes and an expanded brake-check area for trucks. Construction is expected to begin in June, with completion by spring of 2022, with $15.5 million provided by the federal government and B.C. funding the rest.

“In the case of this project in my riding, the federal funding share is not going to change, so B.C. taxpayers are on the hook for these increased costs,” said Doug Clovechok, B.C. Liberal MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke.

Premier John Horgan’s government has directed that all large public construction be done under a “community benefits agreement” that requires employees to join international unions affiliated with the B.C. and Yukon Building Trades Council. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena estimated that the agreements would increase labour costs by up to seven per cent, partly due to expanded opportunities for apprentices.

The ministry issued a statement to Black Press Tuesday, saying the steep increase is partly due to a “hot construction market” for materials and labour, including a 30 per cent steel premium and 20 per cent on asphalt for paving.

The Independent Contractors and Business Association, a mostly non-union group of companies that has joined a court action against the NDP policy, says the cost increase is a direct result of the union restrictions.

READ MORE: B.C.’s union rules could create construction ‘battle zone’

READ MORE: Construction companies challenge ‘illegal’ B.C. union deal

“The NDP’s sweetheart deal with their building trade union allies has driven the cost of this project up by a third, and they’re not even in the ground yet,” ICBA president Chris Gardner said. “It’s no surprise. There were far fewer bidders than expected as many roadbuilding companies are avoiding the NDP’s forced labour model.”

Gardner predicted that the Pattullo bridge replacement, the Broadway subway in Vancouver and other sections of the Trans-Canada four-laning from Kamloops to the Alberta border will also cost more.

The 300-page B.C. deal creates a new Crown corporation, B.C. Infrastructure Benefits, to control payroll, union dues and benefits for public construction. It will divert 25 cents per hour for each employee to a new union council called the Allied Infrastructure and Related Construction Council of B.C., and another seven cents per hour to building trades union funds for health and safety, rehabilitation and skills training.

Non-union or independent union-affiliated companies can bid on taxpayer-funded projects, but their employees are required to join one of the designated international trade unions within 30 days of starting the job.

The B.C. Construction Association also objects to the new deal, calling the name “community benefit agreement” a way to “disguise a union labour agreement.” The deal requires wage increases of two per cent per year until 2024 with no strikes allowed.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Artist to paddle length of Columbia River this summer

Claire Dibble to leave Canal Flats on her journey this July

First Nations included in latest Columbia River Treaty talks

Seventh round of negotiations between Canada and U.S. wrap up in Washington D.C.

Fatal car crash near Radium

RCMP suspect ‘medical emergency’ caused single-vehicle incident

“Dirt fishing” unearths long-lost memento

Man uncovers 30-year-old lost class ring at old Invermere high school grounds

Studying time management

DTSS school schedule to change this fall

VIDEO: Stop-motion artist recreates Kawhi Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater

It took Jared Jacobs about 40 hours to make the video, on top of the research

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Four-hour tarmac delay violates charter rights of Canadians with a disability: lawsuit

Bob Brown says new rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Most Read