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Wood building contract awarded to BC Liberal donor

The company that won the provincial government contract to build the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George happens to have been a generous donor to the BC Liberal Party.

PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. has donated $110,989 to the BC Liberals since 2005, according to Elections BC's database. The related PCL Constructors Inc. also gave $12,500 to the BC Liberals, the bulk of it in 2011.

On March 22 the B.C. government announced that PCL had beat two other companies in a request for proposals process (RFP) to build the $25 million building intended to showcase B.C. wood and expertise.

The RFP followed earlier requests for expressions of interest and for qualifications, and the entire process was monitored by fairness advisor Jane Shackell whose report will be made public when the contract closes.

Other companies working on PCL's team also happen to be BC Liberal Party donors. Since 2005 Houle Electric has donated $24,550 and MMM Group has given $20,450.

The companies that PCL beat in the final round were Maple Reinders/Cree and WIC Design + Build. According to the Elections BC donation database Maple Reinders gave the Liberals $500 in 2005 and Western Industrial Contractors have given $26,025 since 2005. *

The WIDC has been the subject of controversy in recent weeks, with allegations that Prince George MLAs and cabinet ministers Pat Bell and Shirley Bond had been involved in encouraging the Northern Development Initiative Trust to provide loans to Commonwealth Campus Corporation to assemble land for the project.

Commonwealth president Dan McLaren, himself a sometime Liberal donor, lodged a complaint in November with the fairness advisor about the process. Brian Fehr, the CEO for the BID Group of Companies, has said his company was given assurances from government officials it would be on the short list to build the WIDC, but Bell and Bond have repeatedly said no such promises were made as that would have been inappropriate. **

* Paragraph corrected at 1:47 p.m. on March 25, 2013.

** Paragraph clarified at 6:23 p.m. on March 25, 2013.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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