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 design was also updated to include another 600 metres of retaining walls after geotechnical work found “poor soils” both above and below the existing retaining wall, the ministry said.

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 new 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

Balu Pass closed in Glacier National Park

The National Park is east of Revelstoke on Highway 1

Junior B hockey starts again later this month, how are the Doug Birk teams looking?

The Grizzlies are defending KIJHL and provincial champions and hoping to repeat the wins this year

Highway 1 road construction continues, high 26 today

Revelstoke roads, weather and wildfires update

Motorcyclist involved in Westside Road crash

Air ambulance assists while motorists face lengthy delays

Second cannabis store in the works for Revelstoke

City Council approved a development variance permit for Revelsmoke Aug. 13

Knife-wielding man tries to break into Okanagan retirement home

Seniors and staff shaken by incident and upset with RCMP response

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan dog ‘Alice’ to get surgery thanks to BC SPCA crowdfunding

With the surgery, Alice’s prognosis is ‘excellent,’ stated the BC SPCA

Suspicious item forces 47 to evacuate plane at Kelowna airport

Kelowna RCMP continue investigation of suspicious item on airplane

Kelowna man nearly drowns on Okanagan Lake

The victim is in serious yet stable condition but his condition has worsened since going to hospital

Okanagan youth protest Tolko logging

Small group gathers outside Tolko head office

Kelowna International Airport threat deemed non-credible

Normal operations have resumed following note of a suspicious item on board a WestJet plane

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

Most Read